A couple of points on challenges and global changes, they’re my own personal opinion. I do not think that human rights are absolute truths that are above politics. They are compromises that are deeply political. There are no natural good human rights respecting states and no evil villain states, they move on a scale. If we acknowledge these points but want human rights to be universal and better, this can only be achieved through further political communication and through listening, like with the BRICS states. I welcome the new powers’ challenge as a test, they might become better.
Human rights are about challenging power but become something different when power starts to use them itself, usually with the excuse of squashing other lesser powers. The apolitical conception of human rights is very recent, from the 70s. There was a combination of events that made human rights the leading language of the world.
In the background, according to Moin, people had lost faith in the big political and economical changes of the world. And instead of these maximal positions, human rights were seen as the last minimal position of the world. Of course the rights talked about here are very narrow and are, arguably, above politics. But very soon they were asked to increasingly solve all the problems of the world, thus moving from a minimal position to a maximal one.
If we look at human rights and their influence on the world, trade and financial policies have even more power to change the world. These are all political decisions and you cannot change that. Putting human rights on a pedestal is a dangerous thing; instead we should see them as constantly changing.
The EU can no longer count on the automatic support of African countries on human rights issues. This might not mean human rights losing out but just a change in power politics.
Amnesty International is changing how it works. We are moving out of the head office in London and putting more emphasis on offices in Brazil, India and other countries. Being present locally we are also in a position to better pressure local governments.