"We have the privilege of living in freedom. But with that privilege comes the
responsibility to use our liberty to speak up for those who are denied it
… It is not only morally right that we should speak for the oppressed, it
is also in our national interests to do so. Dictators do not make the best
allies. Freedom and prosperity go together."
This was part of William Hague’s foreword to the first annual report of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission which analysed the human rights situation in 18 countries, and ranked them in a "hall of shame" of the worst countries for freedoms, the rule of law, and human rights violations (see table below for overall rankings).
The recommendations of the report were to:
- Appoint a Human Rights Minister (see Sam Burke’s 100 Policies submission on this)
- Make it a requirement and objective for diplomats and embassies to support dissident groups against rogue governments (see Ben Rogers’ review of Mark Palmer’s book advocating this)
- Be consistent on arms trade policy
- Ensure systematic violators of human rights be barred from the UN Human Rights Council and grand resolutions such as 1674 and 1325 should actually be implemented fully
- Strengthen the Community of Democracies
- Consider military intervention, as a last resort, to stop major crimes of humanity
Speaking at the launch event event last night Hague highlighted some of the most striking examples of subjugation and violence:
The killing and torture of civilians and the displacement of up to
25,000 villagers in Burma’s Karen district in the course of 2006 alone;
- The 200,000 political prisoners incarcerated in North Korea’s jails,
who are the victims of a regime which is known to arbitrarily imprison
up to three generations for the transgression of a single individual;
- The victims of the Iranian regime, which as late as 2005 continued
to execute children and juvenile offenders, and which retains
floggings, stonings and amputations on its statute books.
- Or the thousands of victims of rape and ethnic cleansing in Darfur,
where, as I visited refugee camps, I heard tales of suffering and saw
scenes of poverty and degradation that I will never forget.
I strongly recommend reading this high quality report. Those who attended the launch last night included Liam Fox, David Davis and several MPs and Peers, and there was a strong consensus that the CPHRC has in one year made its mark as a serious, influential body.