Amnesty’s Moral Tour de Force

Amnesty’s Moral Tour de Force

South Asia is in the cross hairs of the Amnesty International. The human rights organization has, in a report, portrayed a grim picture of human rights in the whole of South Asia. “South Asia, according to the Amnesnty International’s South Asia director, Biraj Patnaik, is seeing a worrying rollback of human rights as various governments invoke sovereignty and security to threaten freedoms, shrinking the space for human rights activists to operate and make their voices heard”. While the human rights organization’s remarks –both pertaining to Kashmir and the larger canvas of South Asia- are welcome, but, in the final analysis, Amnesty’s interventions carry merely what may be called a “moral tour de force” and the overall all premise is in the nature of “naming and shaming”. The reason is that Amnesty is not a state but operates in the anarchical world of states. In this Hobbesian and anarchical system are states, sovereignty acts as shield for states. That, is what goes on within states is the business of states and nothing really can be done about it by either the international community of states or even the United Nations. This is a structural flaw of the international state system which has been obviated to some extent by what is called the “ Responsibility to Protect”(R2P). But the R2P is a tepid measure that has , by and large, been observed in the breach. The Syrian saga where hundreds and thousands have been murdered is a case in point for both shield of sovereignty accorded to states and the weak nature of the R2P. This generic discussion has a bearing on Kashmir and the conflict in and over it. Amnesty’s report will be read by many and may be used as a reference but in the final analysis given the very nature of the international state system, it will not amount to much. The conflict in and over Kashmir is a multilayered and complex dispute which brooks no easy solutions. And, in the ultimate analysis, it is states involved in the conflict and the peoples affected by it that have to arrive at a solution to the vexed dispute. Of course, outsiders have a role. The nature of this role can be mediatory wherein perspectives of states involved are bridged and the aspirations of people fulfilled. But , alas, this cannot be done by the Amnesty. This is not to demean the human rights organization but to put matters into perspective. And, yes the Amnesty’s report will have an impact but the nature of this impact will be frugal. What, the report, ideally should do is to make powers that be in the region and Kashmir concentrate their minds on both the abstract and tangible nature of human rights. Decoded, this can only mean resolving the multiple conflicts that bedevil the region- especially the one which potentially can throw peace, prosperity and development of the region into a tizzy. That is, the conflict in and over Kashmir. But the paradox here is that this conflict can only be resolved by the states in conflict over Kashmir and its peoples.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.