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AFRO-NETS> Food for thought for friend and foe (3)



Food for thought for friend and foe (3)
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THE ROLE OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN POLITICIZING DEVELOPMENT ETHICS, 
DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE AND DEVELOPMENT PRAXIS:

The vast majority of humanity just has the right to see, to hear...
and to remain silent. (Eduardo Galeano)

Part (3)

When a little is not enough:
What you push is what you change.

16. I would like you to agree with me that taking, what I call, a 
'minimalist stand towards Human Rights' will do no harm, but neither 
will it do much good.

17. This, because Western Development has led to:

-- adopting what has been called an 'exclusion fallacy', where what 
we choose not to discuss (most often the politics of it all) is as-
sumed to have no bearing on the issues, and led to -- consistently 
adopting soft solutions when faced with hard choices (e.g. 'safety 
nets' that are nothing but a part of a strategy to manage poverty so 
as to attenuate social unrest and keep it at a minimum cost).

18. Moreover, such exclusions and the choice of patch solutions make 
impact their primary goal, not equity, not Human Rights. The stark 
reality is that there is no escape from politics, no way to represent 
the social world free of ideology. Commitment to change coming from 
ethical imperatives alone does not fuel great social movements any-
more. It is not enough to encourage the articulation of a shared 
moral vision, because it leaves us unable to consolidate this vision 
into moral outrage and that outrage into political power to change an 
unfair state of affairs impinging on the most basic rights of people.

19. Society is said to evolve as a (bloody) pendulum: a conservative 
cycle/a liberal cycle; action and reaction, always taking a toll of 
death. As long as we are trapped in this cycle and do not proactively 
try to break its passive successions, we cannot expect much in the 
way of Human Rights (in this context meaning 'liberation' to many). 
As a matter of fact, we cannot even expect any fundamental change, 
except that of the awful slow variety where each step takes two gene-
rations or more. (8)

20. Actually, both soft (ethically-motivated) and hard (politically-
motivated) approaches to Human Rights are necessary. But the former 
alone is simply not sufficient! Both call for a militant commitment.

21. The bottom line is that there will be no more business as usual 
(or even business being more focused or interventions more targeted, 
as the present mood seems to call for). This is thus a key time for 
reflection and soul searching. (9)

22. We need moral advocates to influence perceptions. Granted. We 
need mobilization agents and social activists to influence action. 
Granted. But we also need political advocates to raise political con-
sciousness and provide leadership. The latter cannot be left for 
later. Therefore --since working on a common set of values is poli-
tics-- agreeing on the politics of Human Rights --beyond ethical pro-
nouncements-- is the real challenge.

23. But orthodoxy (the right doctrine) is not enough either. Ortho-
praxis (the right acting) is ultimately more important. (A. Gramsci). 
The challenge is to move the process from orthodoxy to orthopraxis 
and from minimal to full steam.

Claudio Schuftan
Hanoi, Vietnam
mailto:aviva@netnam.vn

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