The Russian Federation’s expulsion from the Council of Europe on March 16, 2022, and its forthcoming exit from the European Convention on Human Rights were precipitated by the invasion of Ukraine. But they follow a long and fraught history of conflict between Russia and European human rights institutions, a story that holds lessons about the proper purpose and composition of international formations aimed at protecting and promoting human rights.
Liberal democracies have done virtually nothing to counter China’s human rights propaganda, by which the Chinese Communist Party ruthlessly appropriates the concept of human rights to promote its version of Marxist ideology and glamorize its hegemonic global ambitions.
The fact that many in Congress, as well as large segments of the American electorate and commentariat, consider court-packing a morally legitimate political tactic reveals serious deficits in our society’s understanding of and respect for the rule of law, America’s founding principles, and justice itself. What is more, it shows disrespect for the very idea of truth.
Today any serious book searching for the meaning of rights, natural rights, and human rights is welcome, but in “What’s Wrong with Rights?” Biggar seems preoccupied with a straw man—the claim that rights are absolute.
While the Trump administration has distanced itself from multilateralism with an “America First” approach, the Chinese communist regime has sought to promote and exploit multilateralism in pursuit of a “China First” policy, one that is at variance not only with America’s national interests, but with those of the rest of the world’s sovereign states as well.
No one concerned about the erosion of freedom in the world can afford to be complacent about the state of international human rights, or simply blame it on bad actors. The UN’s bureaucratic human rights mechanisms increasingly fail to protect individual human rights, yet offer cover to human rights abusers.
Truths about human rights have, indeed, been discovered in the West, but are not the property of the West and do not apply only in the West. But Trump implied that these were simply local, particular, and culturally-specific “values.”