03 January 2011

Taking care of the stranger

The institutional defense of human rights among the European democracies collapsed before WWII under the pressure of the Nazis and the Soviets to create displaced people who needed the largesse of their new hosts to help them deal with their exile. 
Antisemitism grew in all corners of Europe because is was being fueled by the deliberate Nazi policies to test the Western democracies' xenia. Human rights is another word for taking care of the stranger. 
In today's world, the values of human rights are being undermined, first, by the corruption of the UN's Human Rights Commission; and, second, by the world's inability to deal with failed and weakened states or stateless peoples, not unlike the Palestinians. The UN's failure to deal both with the question of human rights and with the problem of permanent refugee camps for the Palestinians is testimony to the defect in the very design of that institution. The UN is predicated on the preservation of the nation-state. As an institution, the UN is incapable of dealing with issues that do not take as axiomatic the existence of nation-state as guarantor of civil rights of one sort or another. To go beyond civil rights to the guaranteeing of human rights – rights that redound to people irrespective of whether or not a state can provide for them – is outside the compass of the UN's mandate; indeed it is outside its very ability to define the problem.  
The collapse of the new world order will come about because the problems of statelessness will not be supplanted by the generosity of a people's hospitality.

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