REPUDIATING THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 31 Jan 2010

Kim Petersen – Dissident Voice

The extreme poverty in Haiti is widely acknowledged in the corporate media commentary, but for the most part, it is blamed on some flaw intrinsic to Haitians as a nation.

When Haitians did gain a semblance of control over their fate, with the election of their first president, regimes in France, the United States, and Canada — even the United Nations — blocked Haitian sovereignty.

The abduction and imposed exile of Haiti’s elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide by US forces in collusion with French and Canadian forces is a violation of Article 55 of the UN Charter which calls for “… the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples…”

When a people are denied the right to choose and keep their president, self-determination is rendered moot.

Article 55 also promotes “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.” [italics added]

This article examines the respect for human rights by American, Canadian, and French governments in relation to the removal of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights will serve as arbiter since France, the United States, and Canada are signatories to it. In fact, all three countries assert pride of place in the UDHR. The French tell of the “considerable role” their diplomat René Cassin played in drafting discussions and of the decision for a “universal” rather than a more limited “international” declaration.1 Americans point to the “leading role” and “driving force” of Eleanor Roosevelt in the creation of the UDHR.2 Canada trumpets that its citizen, John Humphrey was the writer of the UDHR wherein “the state would no longer be above the law.”

UHDR and States Above the Law

Article 9 states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” While sides might argue whether Aristide resigned or was abducted (granted one side’s veracity is severely impugned3), clearly Aristide is prevented from returning despite the will of a multitude of Haitians. The BBC indicates that the US is behind the exile.4

The imposed exile of Aristide is a violation of Article 13 (2), which holds, “Everyone has the right to … return to his country.”

Without the right of return, Article 13 (1)’s “right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state” is moot.

In effect, Aristide’s exile also contravenes Article 15 on rights to a nationality. Aristide has been removed from Haitian jurisdiction and state protection. Customarily, it is the right of each state to determine who its nationals are.5

Obviously, the electoral rights in Article 21 are in abeyance for Aristide.

In closing, Article 30 declares, “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.”

Judging from the UHDR articles described here, it appears that Canada, France, and the US are engaged in the destruction of human rights. Such impunity does not augur well for a world based on justice applied equally to everyone.6

The UHDR may not not legally binding, but when a nation pledges itself by virtue of its signature, then there is an ethical obligation to uphold agreements, conventions, treaties, declarations, constitutions, etc. It is egregious enough that a nation engages in the destruction of another nation, a nation weakened because of a long history of violence against it, but when a nation compounds this perfidy through open defiance of its raison d’être (would any moral nation deny that it exists for the good of its people and the wider humanity?) what are the citizens of such nations to think? More importantly, what are the citizenry to do? What is their moral obligation?

NOTES:

1.    Georges-Henri Soutou, “France and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,” France Diplomatie. [↩]

2.    “Eleanor Roosevelt & the Declaration of Human Rights,” fawco.org. [↩]

3.    See Kim Petersen, “Grasping at Straws: Searching for a War Pretext,” Dissident Voice, 4 March 2003. [↩]

4.    “Thousands demand Aristide return,” BBC News, 16 July 2006. [↩]

5.    See “Nationality,” Wikipedia. [↩]

6.    See International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States, Edited by Nils Andersson, Daniel Iagolnitzer, and Diana G. Collier (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2008). [↩]

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Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org.


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