10.12.2005

Human rights are universal

- not only something to use as an argument when it fits EU

(ECOSY Newsletter October 2005)

The Human Rights are often used as an argument in debates concerning policy areas where EU wants to be more restrictive in the speed of the development of the policy area. A recent example is Turkey.

In almost all discussions about the future Turkish accession to EU is the lack of implementation of the human rights in Turkey often mentioned. It is of course good that the human rights are getting so much attention, especially in a country where the Human Rights usually gets a rather small attention. The universal human rights, that were decided upon of the UN General Assembly in December 1948, should always be the core of all political planning and decisions. Also when it comes to Turkey and EU. Nevertheless does the focus on human rights on the Turkish accession throw a dark shadow on the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy if one compares the Turkish matter with other international matters that EU deals with.
For instance are human rights not that often mentioned when it comes to EU’s international policies towards China. This has been evident the last couple of months when the trade regulations between China and EU have been debated, changed and decided upon. The discussion has then mainly been circulating around what kind of trade that would be the best for the European consumers. To some extent, even if very little, has the debate also dealt with what kind of trade that would benefit the world market. This despite the obvious violation of human rights in China, something that many international organisations, among them Amnesty International, continuously report about. Overall has the human rights perspective of more international trade got very small attention in the political dialogue between China and EU, and in media. Few lines, if any in some parts of Europe, have been spared in the news to report on how the Chinese citizens’ situation would improve through more and better relations between the EU and China.

The differences between the Turkish question and the Chinese one are of course evident: For example does not China want to become a member of the EU. But this should anyway not make a difference; the human rights should, as stated above, be the core of all political planning and decisions – on all political levels, in all policy areas.

EU is rather good on mentioning Human Rights in political documents but not at all that efficient on implementing them. As usual, unfortunately, is there a large and cynical gap between the beautiful words and the grey reality. The same obvious attention that have been put on Turkey, pushing them to improve their implementation of human rights, must EU also put on other political actors, for example China, Morocco and the World Bank. If not is EU not a trustworthy political actor. The confidence, even if it’s quite low, that citizens put into EU is also risked if the union continues to build the EU political agenda on double standards.

The European criticism towards Turkey concerning Human Rights will not gain the true weight that is needed until it will be obvious that it is not just another argument that some European elements use to find more reasons to keep Turkey out of the EU. To reach this must the universal human rights become the core of all decision making in the union.

Laila Naraghi
Vice president ECOSY

Tips about links:
Amnesty International and their annual human rights report
www.amnesty.org
www.amnesty.org/ailib/aireport/index.html

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