The Human Rights: A Permanent Challenge

EDITORIAL, 15 February 2016

#415 | Johan Galtung

Concluding Remarks, Colloque, Université Catholique Lyon, 5-6 Feb 2016

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948–the two Conventions of 16 November 1966 are international law–was edited by a committee of Men; Older, White, Bourgeois, Lawyers, French. MOWBLF.

Nothing about women’s and children’s rights; wait till the 1980s.

The perspective focuses on individuals, not collectives, peoples.

There are no rights to access to toilet, nor to sexuality: well- mannered bourgeois do such things but do not talk-write about it. Art. 27.2 even protects remuneration for professionals like themselves.

The “human rights=legal claims” discourse defines underdog goals but is silent on topdog goals: status quo. Their justification: “If they rise, they will treat us the way we treated them”. Revenge. In a conflict discourse, all parties have to be heard, for solutions. But the legal discourse is DMA–Dualist-Manichean-Armageddon; two parties, rights vs wrongs, final battle in the Supreme Court. No accommodation to legitimate concerns of the losing side. The winner takes all.

And they were French. What does, or did, that mean? France as the First Modern State, fruit of the Great Revolution, the locomotive pulling all states on the rails of universalism. Marked and marred by the terreur of “monstre Paris” (Orange), to be tamed by rules binding the state: hence human and citizen rights. But silent on the citizen duties, in very small script: paying state taxes, dying in state wars.

Universal? So conditioned by gender, generation, race, class, profession, nation, with its history* and geography**? Of course not.

Examples: Asians mention the rights of villages and artisanry to survive “development”; and the rights of clans as juridical persons.

And yet admirable. We salute Article 3, the sacred right to life. And we interpret it as the right to a full life, not cut off by acts of direct violence; nor cut down by structural violence. Not acts of commission; nor acts of omission, failing to engage in social change.

And we salute Article 28, the meta-right, to live in the social and world orders that make the rights possible. A genius article.

Instead of Human Rights-Democracy controlling States controlling Capital, Capital now controls States through privatization (deprivare, of democratic control), buying legislative-executive-judiciary power by buying politicians, thereby crippling democracy and human rights.

Growing inequality within and between states, recurring crisis when speculation with other peoples’ money breaks down–cashing in the gains, pushing the risks on people with states as powerless spectator. Misery spreads: there are now more poor people in USA than in China.

Add to this the USA killing more than 20 million in 37 states since WWII, and more than 245 military interventions since 1801 (Jefferson in Libya)–simple facts the West is unable to absorb.

The Third generation of rights to Peace-Development-Environment: Peace: the sacredness of life also across borders; USA is against;

Development: more equality, lifting the bottom up-basic needs for all;

Environment: meet also Nature’s basic needs, diversity and symbiosis.

Also missing were the perspectives of other civilizations; their positive messages, their utopias, with implications for human rights.

The Western utopia: One state, the World; One nation, Humanity; One civilization: Western. This is not going to happen: outcompeted economically, defeated militarily, and less clout politically. However, culture remains. US culture is very strong, carried by Basic English, not by such unnecessarily complicated languages as French and German.

The Islam utopia: the ummah field of believers with the right to live in local communities centered on the Mosque, Sharia court, and the Imam. The rights to Closeness and Sharing to meet basic needs.

Hindu: Focus on Birth-Preservation-Destruction of what does not have the right of life, with the human rights to that dynamism. Like the human right to change religion/world view during one’s lifetime.

Buddhism: Focus on Relations-Networks of individuals with human right to nonviolent relations in local communities-sangha-centered on the temple, the tank-well-for basic needs. Everything hangs together.

China: Focus on Daoist Holism-Dialectics yin/yang always moving. The human right to transcend contradictions, again and again. Three civilizations Daoism-Confucianism-Buddhism enriching each other, not like Judaism-Christianity-Islam killing each other. China is China-centric, lifts the bottom up socially-economically-culturally, and connects Eurasia-Africa with Silk Belts. Human right: to be connected.

Japan: Focus on Eclecticism, of Shinto-Confucianism-Buddhism, Japan-China, Japan-West, Japan-USA. The human right to be eclectic.        The West, Islam and Buddhism seem to define a final state of affairs; the other three are more dynamic, with very open futures.

West and Islam are singularist-universalist, one truth, for all, differ from the other four that absorb from others through occupation, tolerance, dialectics, eclecticism.

Islam and Buddhism favor the human right to live in local units, as opposed to the Western world state and Hindu caste verticality; but compatible with much of China and Japan given the Buddhism in both.

Differences, similarities, changing alliances–a wonderful basis for dialogue of civilizations, and beyond that: for mutual learning. “I love that one, learning from you; what would you like from me–?”

We are globalizing, internationalizing. A key contribution from France was The Internationale, inspired by the 1870-71 Paris Commune, commune-ist, not communist. The author and composer were both French.

“Don’t cling so hard to your possessions; For you have nothing if you have no rights”. Also human rights oriented. And ending strongly:

This is the final struggle
Let us group together and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human kind.

Final or not: human rights drawing on all civilizations harbor that unifying capacity. Let us build on what we have, expand and deepen.

NOTES:

* History throws shadows far into the future. Understanding the relation Germany-Greece/Schäuble-Tsipras, and what happens in Ukraine (“at the border”) passes through +395 (the Roman Empire breaking into a Catholic West and an Orthodox East and +1094 (the “Schism”; understanding Iraq passes through +1258 (the massacre of Baghdad); understanding Afghanistan-Pakistan passes through +1893 (Durand line); understanding the Middle East and the Islamic State passes through 1916 (Sykes-Picot). Understanding mass migration into Europe passes through the history of slavery, colonialism, robbery capitalism, wars.

We sense a human right here, the right to be well informed about the past to understand present and future better.

** Geography throws links around the world, like the same climate at the same belts of latitude; hence deep colonialism West-East-West, less so North-South-North. From the West came empires linking vast spaces, born-expanding-maturing-declining-falling. China stayed in the same pocket Himalaya-Gobi-Tundra-Sea with dynasties born-expanding-maturing-declining-falling.

We sense a human right here, the right to be well informed about the far away to understand the near and the here better.

____________________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 February 2016.

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22 Responses to “The Human Rights: A Permanent Challenge”

  1. Ahmed Mannouti says:

    Almost as a reflex you add the following – in different variations – to almost every single post you write Mr Galtung:

    “Add to this the USA killing more than 20 million in 37 states since WWII, and more than 245 military interventions since 1801 (Jefferson in Libya)–simple facts the West is unable to absorb.”

    Why are so obsessed with that? Didn’t you think we understood it the first 200 times you mentioned it?

    Get over your obsession with the US. Not because the issue is unimportant, but because your obsessions and hatred are undermining your otehrwise valid points.

    • Rant Deldano says:

      “The USA have killed more than 20 million in 37 states since WWII, and more than 245 military interventions since 1801 (Jefferson in Libya)–simple facts the West is unable to absorb.”

      This has nothing to do with hate! The above dear people is an elefant in the room. I ask this question in every term and none of my students ever knows it. Information sets us in formations to overcome alienation. Mr. Mannouti, you seem to be reading these editorials regularly, just because you know it doesn’t mean everybody does. Why is it so disturbing to you?

      • Ahmed Mannouti says:

        Dear Rant Deldano

        I don’t believe you are right. If you blindly and continously hammer a singular aggressive talking point as many times as Mr. Galtung has, you give yourself away. And while I in no way think the US is “innocent”, Mr. Galtung’s hate will do nothing to move anything in the right direction.

        Let me ask you. Is China a critical country in the future and a country that needs to be involved and engaged and included? Of course it is, as Mr. Galtung rightly has asserted again and again. Yet I don’t recall Mr. Galtung screaming out that the ruling CCP is responsible for the death of 50-80 million of its own citizens under the lunacy of Mao Zedong, every time he mentions China. Do you?

        Mr. Galtung is a smart guy and his view of the world and ideas are valuable, significant and should be read by many more. But he is not flawless and he needs to start looking at his own rethorics and the mistakes he has made himself. The support for Russian aggression for instance, and the unhinged hatred of the US. Neither will move anything forward.

      • Rant Deldano says:

        Jesus Christ dear Krogh. How many millions do you need to be satisfied? This is not about the millions. This is about the fact that this is NORMAL in Pax Americana. Whether 1 million or 250 000 or 25 000. This is about the cynicism of militarily induced death as SOP or as corollary of Realpolitik. Killing for gain, material or imaterial is deliberate and it is deliberately retarded-atavistic. That is the only point your friend Galtung is making. Well I don’t care whether Galtung is Antiamerican or not. I care that he is against killing and he has a point that American foreign policy is murdering people left and right a fact which you seem not to have any compunctions about – why? Diminutive humanity is my best guess. Regarding his prognosis, you are truly unfamiliar with Galtung’s methodology… which is perfectly alright – why should people who read him here be acquainted with his sociology? For your information, a sociological prognosis is not a prediction. It is not a prophecy. It is subject to sociological variance and variables doing what social variables do: changing. So you have prognosis ceteris paribus vs. prognosis under changing circumstances, furthermore I still have popcorn left and I am STILL watching the show. The U.S. of this day IS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT from the U.S. of my adolescence and twens. You’re… We’re all watching a game which is far from finished and you’re already calling the shots, laying blame, while there are at least 5 to 10 more years to go according to your “I-love-to-hate-him” friend Galtung. Anyhow, just based on my experience from the last 30 years, I would distribute my chips evenly on Galtung and any other bet that the U.S. is going to faceplant harder than it has so far. The trajectory of its real economy is quite a descent to behold. You are somewhat precocious in your fingerpointing. And again, who cares if he is right? What matters is to ponder whether the reasoning and the conclusions are coherent and congruent with reality as it unfolds. Galtung is not too far off the mark of what is going on right now infront of our eyes.

  2. Jon Olsen says:

    I think that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, like the US Constitution, is a fine document, but it can be appropriately amended from time to time. I think there ARE some universals, e.g. right not to be subject to summary execution, the right not to be overrun with invading forces and the many that are enumerated. But I appreciate the reference to also including the perspectives of other cultures, as long as those do not violate what is universal, a concern that does require some attention from diverse cultures.

  3. Thomas Krogh says:

    Johan Galtung

    Interesting – you have earlier been caught in promoting factoids and other stuff that has been shown to be incorrect.

    Could you please *document* the “20 million” that the US supposedly has killed. You repeat that claim over and over and over, but you have never produced one shred of evidence for ot.

    Secondly, how did your earlier predictions about the collapsing US$ end up? And why did the BRICS phantom turn our to be much more like hot air, and the US economic growth to be much more robust than your earlier thought?

    Do you ever re-visit your own predictions Johan Galtung, and do you have integrity enough to say “I was wrong”?

    Oh well….

    • Rant Deldano says:

      Mr. Krogh, you must be lazy. It’s so funny to come in here just to watch these people who come on here like its a Kung Fu movie just to test the old Kung Fu master. Mr. Krogh, How about SOURCING your criticism?

      You write:
      (a) you have earlier been caught in promoting factoids
      SOURCE PLEASE! That Mr. Krogh is a “truth claim”. PROVE IT! And who are you anyway? Galtung is OUT HERE every week. Since 2008. Week for week. Dropping Knowledge. What about you? Where is your WORK? These are serious questions. Where is your work? Where is your “bulletproof” “factoid free” contribution to humanity? Week after week after week?

      You write:
      (b)Could you please *document* the “20 million” that the US supposedly has killed.
      Elsewhere in here:https://www.transcend.org/tms/category/editorial/ you will find the source in his older editorials! He has! delivered it before. I have read it. Mine is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh-D5LJzrX8 Here is the one he brought in a previous editorial: http://www.countercurrents.org/lucas240407.htm

      On the US$: When was the last time you checked on the stability of the US$ as the global trade currency? US growth ROBUST? Mr. Krogh, you are trolling: http://www.salon.com/2015/07/15/35_soul_crushing_facts_about_american_income_inequality_partner/

      But in a way, it is becoming more entertaining to read Galtung’s editorials now that he has his own trolls.

  4. Thomas Krogh says:

    Rant Deldano

    Neither of the links you provide document the “20 million”. They merely confirm that in order to get to a number anywhere close to 20 million, you’ll have to assume that the US has the sole responsibility, even for the entire number deaths caused by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the North Korean invasion of South Korea. Among others.

    I would certainly find it very – *very* – interesting if you can confirm that Galtung’s calculations are based on those assumptions, as that would blow his claim to not be anti-american to pieces once and for all.

    And I would – even more – like to here this confirmed from Galtung himself. Couldn’t I tempt him to comment on it and provide the detailed source for the “20 million”?

    As for the US$, what happened to Galtungs prediction about the falling $ and the collapsing US economy? Did Galtung revisit his earlier predicitions?

  5. Thomas Krogh says:

    Rant Deldano

    “Jesus Christ dear Krogh. How many millions do you need to be satisfied? This is not about the millions. This is about the fact that this is NORMAL in Pax Americana. Whether 1 million or 250 000 or 25 000.”

    Utter nonsens. If figures didn’t matter, Galtung wouldn’t go out of his way to repeat this junk over and over and over again.

    “This is about the cynicism of militarily induced death as SOP or as corollary of Realpolitik. Killing for gain, material or imaterial is deliberate and it is deliberately retarded-atavistic. That is the only point your friend Galtung is making.”

    Uhm no. By repeating numbers that are without any reasonble base he is in fact undermining that particular point. Then he would take a much broader view, but his anti-americanism gets the better of him. Which is a pity.

    “Well I don’t care whether Galtung is Antiamerican or not.”

    I had guessed that long time ago.

    “Regarding his prognosis, you are truly unfamiliar with Galtung’s methodology… which is perfectly alright – why should people who read him here be acquainted with his sociology? For your information, a sociological prognosis is not a prediction. It is not a prophecy. It is subject to sociological variance and variables doing what social variables do: changing.”

    Then Galtung might consider namings his predictions something else than predictions. Don’t you think so?

    What do you make of his idiotic 2020 prediction about the US? That’s less than 4 years from now. Has he integrity enough to re-visit and do some “I was wrong?”. Have you ever seen Galtung admit being wrong? Do you care?

    “So you have prognosis ceteris paribus vs. prognosis under changing circumstances, furthermore I still have popcorn left and I am STILL watching the show. The U.S. of this day IS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT from the U.S. of my adolescence and twens. You’re… We’re all watching a game which is far from finished and you’re already calling the shots, laying blame, while there are at least 5 to 10 more years to go according to your “I-love-to-hate-him” friend Galtung.”

    I certainly don’t hate him. I find him too self-absorbed, too unable to admit being wrong and too happy ignoring dictators in order to trash The West. That doesn’t equal hate. At least not from me.

    ” Anyhow, just based on my experience from the last 30 years, I would distribute my chips evenly on Galtung and any other bet that the U.S. is going to faceplant harder than it has so far. The trajectory of its real economy is quite a descent to behold.”

    The “coming collapse” of the US has been predicted since the 18th century. People who do so confuse wishful thinking with predictive skills.

    “You are somewhat precocious in your fingerpointing. And again, who cares if he is right? What matters is to ponder whether the reasoning and the conclusions are coherent and congruent with reality as it unfolds. Galtung is not too far off the mark of what is going on right now infront of our eyes.”

    Galtung has been impressively bad at predicting the future, so his ability to reason coherently and congruent is doubtful. To put it mildly. He might improve if he start listening to critics. But – alas – that is his weak point.

    • Rant Deldano says:

      You should carry my first name haha. Well anyhow. Your stance is quite clear and it is quite superficial. Your discontent with Galtung is solved quite simply: Use your own mind to reflect or work on the issues you feel Galtung is not strong on. Take from his work what serves you and do your own work on what you feel doesn’t do your interests justice in his work. Why waste all this energy just to say you’re unhappy with this and that aspect of his work – But quite obviously you have not read much Galtung.

      • Thomas Krogh says:

        Rant Deldano

        Oh I will. Based on Galtung’s inability to predict stuff, unwillingness to admit when he is wrong and lack of self-criticism, I will consider how much I can learn from him.

  6. David Rahmany says:

    Galtung accurately predicted the Fall of the Soviet Empire 10 years ahead. That is good enough for me! Strange conversation in a thread about human rights. What did you predict?

  7. A few commenters on this forum complain why Dr. Galtung re-iterates the following:

    “Add to this the USA killing more than 20 million in 37 states since WWII, and more than 245 military interventions since 1801 (Jefferson in Libya)–simple facts the West is unable to absorb.”

    I on the other hand welcome this reflection however many times it is made because at least in commercial news these facts are never released.

    The reason we need to know that the USA foreign policy continues to kill many individuals in the name of ‘collateral damage’ is because ‘collateral damage’ is inherently inhuman. The reason we also need to be reminded of this is because the collateral damage and state-damage continues.

    Is that not reason enough? If that is not enough, we might ask ourselves the question “what then would we like to hear?”

    • Thomas Krogh says:

      Sumeet Grover

      “I on the other hand welcome this reflection however many times it is made because at least in commercial news these facts are never released.”

      What facts? Galtung’s inability to document the “20 million”?

  8. Timothy Nelson says:

    According to the source cited to back up Galtung’s claim,
    it seems Galtung is using the lower estimate which seems to me not like someone who hates the USA. A hater would opt for the higher estimate.

    I quote from http://www.countercurrents.org/lucas240407.htm:

    “The overall conclusion reached is that the United States most likely has been responsible since WWII for the deaths of between 20 and 30 million people in wars and conflicts scattered over the world.” But then the question is whether this author is as credible as Galtung is.

    • Thomas Krogh says:

      Timothy

      “According to the source cited to back up Galtung’s claim,
      it seems Galtung is using the lower estimate which seems to me not like someone who hates the USA. A hater would opt for the higher estimate. ”

      At hater would use the figures from that particular website – low or high – as the site in general scream and whine that all those deaths shall be attributed to the US.

      So thanks for confirming that about Galtung.

      • Hi there Krogh. In the 70’s Johan predicted the fall of the Soviet empire for 1990. He must be a real loser because the disintegration made by Gorbachev happened in 1989.

        About yourself? What have you been done lately for humanity besides trying to make a name by attempting to denigrate giants like Johan Galtung? Get a life, my friend. Read what he wrote, then talk, not to make a fool of yourself in public. 🙁

  9. Thomas Krogh says:

    Antonio Rosa

    Galtung also predicted that the Soviet economy would overtake the USA’s. And emboiled himself into zany conspiracy theories about the Soviet coup in 1991 was in reality a CIA-instigated scheme. So why should I trust him? Add that to his continued – decades long – prediction that the US will collapse. By 2020.

    Ask yourself why Galtung has *absolutely* no intention nor – seemingly – capability to admit his former errors.

    Why should I trust a conspiracy theorist with an semi-Messiah-complex like Galtung?

    Why should I trust his followers that only parrot what Galtung is saying and are so scared about contradicting him, that their critical sense is completely absent? How many of his followers have you seen being able to critize him for anything?

    I know the answers.