Human Rights Hypocrisy


David Adams | Transition to a Culture of Peace – TRANSCEND Media Service

1 Nov 2022 – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the great documents of history.

With that in mind, it is especially ironic and unfortunate when human rights is used by the culture of war as part of its weaponry.

During the Cold War from the 1950’s through the 1980’s, the United States and its allies used accusations of their human rights violations as a way to justify labelling the Soviet Union as the enemy.

After all; the culture of war cannot function without an enemy. It is not enough to claim that the enemy is arming in order to attack us, but it is necessary to add that the enemy is barbaric and against our values such as the values of human rights. This requires government control of information which has become the principal arm of the culture of war.

Of course, the Soviet Union was not innocent of human rights violations. They were abundantly documented by writers such as Solzhenitsyn. But the West’s accusations were hypocritical. There were political prisoners in the USA as well as the Soviet Union. The West’s exploitation and intervenions in Africa and Latin America were, if anything, worse than the exploitation and interventions by the Soviet Union in its allied countries.

Ironically, the Soviet Union ratified the economic and social part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, guaranteeing housing, employment and medical care to its citizens, whereas the United States has never ratified this, and continues to have high levels of homelessness, unemployment and millions of people without medical care.

The Nobel Peace Prize this year returns us to the use of human rights hypocrisy as a weapon of the culture of war. It was awarded to those who accuse Russia and its allies of human rights violations, and even includes one organization funded and following the pro-war line of the American government. There is no attempt to criticise the abundant human rights violations of the West or mention the serious human rights violations of Ukraine.

Human rights hypocrisy is not confined to the new Cold War against Russia. It applies also to the the new Cold War against China. As described in this blog last year, the commercial media decries Chjnese human rights violations in camps of the Uighur people of Mongolia. But the media sources are funded by the CiA. And to add to the hypocrisy, the camps were establlshed by China in response to CIA-funded terrorist operations. When the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet returned from a fact-finding mission to visit the Uighur people without documenting these claims, she was denounced by Americans and their allies.

Earlier this year, Russia was expelled from the UN Human Rights Commission, again on the demand of the US and its allies. The vote was far from unanimous, however, as it was not supported by over 70 countries of the South. Another recent UN vote provides similar results: 66 countries called for negotiations to end the war in the Ukraine, almost all of them coming from the South.

The commercial media in Europe and North America is almost unanimous in supporting the claims of the West against Russia and China and ignoring human rights violations in the West, while much of the media in the rest of the world are not following this line.

We return to the question of government control of information. To what extent is the Western media infiltrated by CIA agents? Difficult to know since CIA actions are top secret. However, we should recall the US Senate hearings after the Vietnam War which considered this question. Few people would know about these hearings were it not for an article by the reporter Carl Bernstein. Bernstein’s report was not accepted for publication by “main-line” media and he was only able to publish it in the alternative press, the Rolling Stone Magazine . The Bernstein article reveals that the Church Committee found extensive secret CIA infiltration of the mass media, including the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc. The data revealed by Bernstein and the Church Committee were only the tip of the iceberg, however. As Bernstein explains, the Committee was blocked from going further with its investigation.

The human rights hypocrisy of the Americans, Europeans and their military allies adds to the growing gulf between the North and South. As shown by the UN votes mentioned above, many countries of the South do not agree with their human rights hypocrisy. Many of them have also come under similar attacks, not to mention economic sanctions, exploitation and in some cases assassinations or military interventions. Important countries of the South such as India, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina are joining the BRICS countries looking for an alternative to the domination of the US dollar.

To quote the World Social Forum, another world is possible.


Dr. David Adams is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace.  Previously, at Yale and Wesleyan Universities, he was a specialist on the brain mechanisms of aggressive behavior, the history of the culture of war, and the psychology of peace activists, and he helped to develop and publicize the Seville Statement on Violence. Send him an email.

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