Inconsiderate Pressures Lead to Setbacks

There is a bitter complaint voiced by many countries attempting to develop their human rights dossier and ease foreign concerns about their human rights situation. More often than not, the majority of countries responds and interacts with the challenges they face in their human rights dossier and seek to remedy the situation, which is often the focus of attention and subject of criticism.

The major problem, however, is that the efforts of these countries may not be reflected in the desired manner on international human rights reports. This applies irrespective of whether these reports are issued by organizations, states or international institutions. When criticizing, these reports provide details of abuses, identify responsibilities and call for change in the form of recommendations. However, when the states concerned implement some or all of these recommendations, they are not met with any positive feedback in subsequent reports nor are they hailed, except incidentally, for the development achieved.

For countries advancing in calculated steps on the human rights track, this attitude is frustrating, because to ignore what these states have achieved would mean the following:

• Focusing persistently on the negative aspects and violations, thus rendering the State concerned under permanent pressure and defamation;

• No matter what the countries concerned do to improve their human rights situation, no significant change in the international human rights positions takes place. This may drive some countries to stop making efforts, since the outcome is the same in all cases, irrespective of whether they act positively or otherwise.

• In most countries that are yet emerging in terms of human rights, there is often controversy and skepticism concerning the work of international human rights organizations, especially regarding the use of human rights issues to impose political pressure on them. Hence, the lack of a positive assessment of human rights developments and achievements made by such countries will invariably lead to one conclusion. It will ultimately sway the balance in favour of advocates of estrangement and skepticism, who will seek to maintain the status quo in those countries and ignore international reports. Intransigency shall thus prevail and supersede the good will for reform and development. This certainly does not serve the cause of human rights

Hence, the approach of international human rights organizations to human rights issues in some countries needs to be reviewed. There is a notion that when a state, out of conviction or under pressure, responds and improves its dossier on a certain issue, pressure should be imposed on it with respect to another issue and so on, irrespective of the previously mentioned considerations. This could lead to a major setback for the human rights cause.

Applying continuous and intensive pressure does not mean that it will be more effective nor does it necessarily lead to positive results. In fact, this may backfire in some states causing them to disengage from all obligations and to become indifferent to pressures, criticism and defamation.

Rather than being subjected to defamatory pressures, such emerging countries may be in dire need for step-by-step assistance as well as appraisal of their achievements, and encouragement to exert further efforts by explaining the benefits of such efforts to those countries, their reputation and peoples. Perhaps this method will prove more fruitful, at least for some countries. As for the persistent pressures approach, it has proved to have failed in more than one country to achieve its objectives for the benefit of human rights.