Amnesty International Report 2012: No longer business as usual for tyranny and injustice
Posted: 24 May 2012
Strong arms trade treaty needed as UN Security Council increasingly looks unfit for purpose
A failure of leadership makes the UN Security Council seem tired, out of step and increasingly unfit for purpose, Amnesty International said today as it launched its 50th global human rights report with a call for a strong global Arms Trade Treaty, which is due to be decided on in July. Read the report
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General, said:
“Failed leadership has gone global in the last year, with politicians responding to protests with brutality or indifference. Governments must show legitimate leadership and reject injustice by protecting the powerless and restraining the powerful. It is time to put people before corporations and rights before profits.
“In the last year it has all too often become clear that opportunistic alliances and financial interests have trumped human rights as global powers jockey for influence in the Middle East and North Africa. The language of human rights is adopted when it serves political or corporate agendas, and shelved when inconvenient or standing in the way of profit.”
The report highlights how vocal and enthusiastic support for the protest movements shown by many global and regional powers in the early months of 2011, has not translated into action. As Egyptians go to the polls to vote for a new president, it looks increasingly as if the opportunities for change created by the protestors are being squandered.
Meanwhile, the report finds that the failure to intervene in Sri Lanka and inaction over crimes against humanity in Syria – one of Russia’s main customers for arms – has left the UN Security Council looking redundant as a guardian of global peace. The emerging powerhouses of India, Brazil and South Africa have too often been complicit through their silence.
Salil Shetty said:
“There is a clear and compelling case for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation of crimes against humanity. The determination of some UN Security Council members to shield Syria at any cost leaves accountability for these crimes elusive and is a betrayal of the Syrian people.”
The Amnesty International Report 2012 documents specific restrictions on free speech in at least 91 countries as well as relaying details of the cases of people tortured or otherwise ill-treated in at least 101 countries – in many instances, simply for taking part in demonstrations.
The report declares the UN meeting to agree an Arms Trade Treaty in July an acid test for politicians to place rights over self-interest and profit. Amnesty’s report warns that without a strong treaty, the UN Security Council’s guardianship of global peace and security seems doomed to failure, as it is likely that its permanent members, the world’s largest arms suppliers, will continue to wield an absolute veto on any resolution.
Salil Shetty concluded:
“Ousting individual leaders – however tyrannical – is not enough to deliver long-term change.
“Governments must uphold freedom of expression at home and abroad, take international responsibilities seriously, and invest in systems and structures that ensure justice, freedom and equality before the law.
“Protestors have shown that change is possible. They have thrown down a gauntlet demanding that governments stand up for justice, equality and dignity. They have shown that leaders who don’t meet these expectations will no longer be accepted. After an inauspicious start, 2012 must become the year of action.”
Other global developments highlighted in Amnesty International Report 2012: