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Weaponizing Human Rights

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Weaponizing Human Rights

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The US Congress should provide the Pentagon with resources to conduct information campaigns that would identify human rights violations by China and Russia.

This was a proposal by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in a report named “Human Rights in a Shifting Landscape: Recommendations for Congress,” published on September 9th.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is an organization that provides expert support to the US Congress and is partially sponsored by the government.

Thus, the CSIC suggested that, the US, which continues selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is by no means a democracy, “plays by the rules,” while Russia and China don’t.

“First, strategic competitors such as China and Russia do not play by the same rule set as the United States. China and Russia are willing to sell arms and broker security partnerships with other countries while blind to their type of governance or respect for human rights. Russia has deliberately struck civilian targets in Syria in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s efforts to retake and consolidate territory. China is conducting large-scale incarceration and persecution of its Muslim Uyghur population.”

The US analysts argue that Moscow and Beijing allegedly see authoritarianism as an alternative to democracy and seek to “bring civil society to oblivion.” The United States is essentially pretending as as protecting human rights in order to criticize countries that have fallen out of its favor, or are its direct competitors.

According to the report, the US should make more efforts to protect human rights around the world and demonstrate leadership in this matter amid the strengthening of authoritarianism.

At the same time, experts of the center believe that authoritarianism is gaining strength, including allegedly due to the actions of China and Russia.

According to analysts, Congress should allocate resources to the US Department of Defense for information operations that will identify “violations of human rights and civil liberties” by Moscow and Beijing.

The list of recommendations to the US Congress includes:

  • Press the U.S. administration to prioritize and fully resource programming that advances good governance, human rights, and humanitarian principles. This, according to the report should be done in two ways:
  1. By “promoting liberty, freedom, and forms of governance similar to our own in regions where China and Russia seek to compete—as this strengthens our alliances.”
  2. And that is achieved through “both information operations that expose competitors’ disregard for human dignity and an affirmative set of policies and programming that advance human rights.”

To be fair, it also suggests that support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen should be discontinued:

  • “Make U.S. arms transfers contingent on compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law;”
  • “Require the integration of Leahy vetting and broader human rights criteria into assessment, monitoring, and evaluation planning and process for both DoD and State security cooperation and security assistance.”

Human rights are quickly turning into a weapon that the US seeks to employ.

It is likely that these recommendations, at least some of them would be followed through on, namely the ones focused on Russia, China, Iran, North Korea.

The ones focused on Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel, those can wait.

Of course, examples of Russia and China’s misadventures in supporting “authoritarianism” are presented. For Russia – participation in the Syrian conflict and assisting the legitimate government led by President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow is also accused of allegedly striking civilian targets.

“Russia intentionally attacked civilian targets in Syria to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his efforts to return and unite the territory,” they assure.

Moscow has repeatedly denied such allegations. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Russian air forces take all the necessary precautions so as not to cause damage to civilian objects and civilians.

The ones who are mostly disregarding human rights and international law is, in fact, the US.

In particular, at the end of August, the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the warring parties reported that the United States, in violation of the agreements with Turkey and Russia, without warning launched an air strike on objects in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which led to numerous destruction and casualties.

The tendency to weaponize human rights is just beginning, but it is potentially just a matter of time until others that have fallen out of grace are accused of such misconduct. After all, how dare they purchase their arms from anybody other than the US?

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