Are human rights advocates abandoning Amnesty International?

From an article on reporting on protests of a forum at which Bush will speak

Is this accurate?


As for the claim that AI has been abandoned by leading human rights advocates, I can’t think of one, and I’d challenge the person who said that to cite some examples. Amnesty International certainly has its share of critics, usually the supporters of those the group criticizes, but the idea that the group had been widely discredited or was not widely respected is an idea that’s hard to support with facts.

If anybody has more credibility in opining on the zeitgeist of the international human rights community than a Tory from Alberta, I surely cannot think of who such a person might be.

I’ve been giving them some money each month for a few years now and because of that follow the organization quite closely in the news etc, and for what it’s worth never heard of this before.

I would not put a lot of stock in what Jason Kenny says. He is one of the more challenged of Stephen Harper’s cabinet ministers, where like George Bush’s White House (to quote Bush speechwriter David Frum) “there is an absence of deep thinkers”. (and a similar ideological bent).

Immigration Canada is in the process of shortening the process of refugee claims, which can take 3 to 5 years. This obviously also makes him a target of AI’s ire.

More likely, the Haper Goverment and Kenny in particular are indulging in wishful thinking that it would be nice if Amnesty International really was irrelevant. Keep repeating it and maybe it will happen, especially when you hear bells. Of course, insisting that one of the USA’s closest allies arrest the ex-president for war crimes probably would help put AI on the fast track to irrelevance.

It depends on your definition of “Human Rights Advocates.”

Leftists around the world certainly continue to embrace AI, and I can’t think of any significant ones who’ve been put off by their recent activities. However…

  1. They have alienated the Catholc Church by treating birth control and abortion as absolute “human rights.”

  2. Those moderates and conservatives who used to support AI reluctantly (“Well, I know they’re left-leaning, but they try to be even-handed and MAY be doing some good”) now dismiss them automatically as a run-of-the-mill liberal pressure group that needn’t be taken seriously.

I don’t know that I’d agree with your phrasing “absolute human right”.
Here is their position on abortion (source):
[ul][li]Obstructing rape survivors’ access to legal abortion services is a violation of their sexual and reproductive rights.[/li][li]Women must have access to safe and legal abortion services in cases of unwanted pregnancy as a result of rape, sexual assault or incest.[/li][li]Imprisonment or other criminal sanctions for seeking or having an abortion is a violation of women’s reproductive rights.[/li][li]Women must have access to safe and legal abortion services where continuation of pregnancy poses a risk to their life or grave risk to their health.[/ul][/li]

Do you have an example of that?

Funny how they stopped being even-handed in conservatives’ eyes when they started objecting to Bush’s torture and rendition regime.

Objecting to torture is one thing; asking that Canada arrest a former President of the United States is just flat-out stupid.

Highly unlikely… yes. Stupid no. Bush (Jr) hasn’t travelled much outside the US since leaving office because there is a very real chance of him being prosecuted for war crimes.


What would the US do if this were to actually happen?

The US has itself arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned a foreign head of state (take a bow, Manuel Noriega!) so I don’t think it can take the position that this can never, ever be done. Nor can it - with any credibility or self-respect - take the position that it can be done to the head of other states but not the President (or former President) of the US.

I don’t suggest, of course, that the case of Noriega and the case of Bush are on all fours; they plainly aren’t. But if private citizen Bush (which is what he now is) goes to Canada and so places himself under the jurisdiction of the Canadian authorities, the US can hardly take the position that there are no circumstances in which they could ever proceed against him.

If he were to be arrested and charged in Canada, the international law issue raised would be whether he could be held accountable by Canada for acts done which, at the time, were done in a sovereign capacity. The US has passed its own laws to determine which acts done by a sovereign are regarded as done in a sovereign capacity and so enjoy immunity in the US, and which do not. It cannot deny other countries the right to make their own laws on this subject. What it can do is question whether those laws are consistent with public international law on sovereign immunity. There is developing international jurisprudence on the question of whether torture can benefit from sovereign immunity, as Charles Taylor is currently discovering.

If the US thinks Canada is in breach of public international law in its treatment of Bush, then it has a range of options open to it. Diplomatic measures, complaints to international tribunals, unilateral sanctions, attempts to organize multilateral sanctions, or to get the Security Council to do so.

The question won’t arise, of course. Canada won’t arrest Bush, and AI knows this. The real motivation for the demand for his arrest is not the expectation that he will be arrested, but simply to draw attention to what is alleged against him and, possibly, to encourage him not to go to Canada in the first place.

Has there ever been any kind of similar precedent? Apparently AI has a 2500+ page portfolio of evidence to submit to any country Bush Jr enters which has signed the international convention against torture.

"Canada has ratified the Convention Against Torture and incorporated it into its domestic legislation. Under the global treaty, Canada has the obligation to prosecute a torture suspect present in Canada unless another country seeks the suspect’s extradition to stand trial elsewhere. "

from here:

I’m sure Canada is going to find a way to ignore this, but for many EU countries they are obliged to investigate under the convention and they’d find it a lot harder politically to ignore.

Ok, but the US holds a unique position in this world. We are, which I think is a mistake, the worlds policeman. We keep the sea and trade lanes open, and allow many other countries to spend practically nothing on defense; especially Canada.

I don’t especially care about Bush but if one of our supposed allies pulled this stunt I’d let them know in no uncertain terms that from now on they’re on there own.

On the other hand, I think that WE, the USA, should have prosecuted Bush and Cheney, at least, of war crimes as soon as they were no longer president and vp. Then again, I reject American Exceptionalism.

But, to the extent that the US does these things, it does them for its own benefit, and not out of high-minded altruistic concern for other nations. Thus, stopping doing these things will injure the interests of the US.

And to what end? So that US presidents will know that, unlike other heads of state, they can torture and murder and never be called to account? Why would an American want such a state of affairs to prevail?

Bad analogy. If a police officer is found to have authorized use of torture they’d get prosecuted and everyone would expect that.

If the US wants to claim to be the world’s police man then the rest of the world should hold them to a higher standard than everyone else, not a lower standard.


Look, I’m sorry to bring this up again, but I’m becoming tired of this “Canada spends nothing on its own defense and the USA protects it” thing that keeps coming up.


  1. Does in fact spend a lot of money on defense, and indeed has been increasing it dramatically for years,

  2. For the last ten years has been putting the great majority of its military effort into fighting a war in Afghanistan that Canada joined in defense of the United States, at the cost of billions of dollars and the lives of over 150 of its sons and daughters,

  3. Is not being “Defended” by the United States, in the sense that the USA incurs no defense spending of any significance for the purpose of defending Canada. (Unlike, say, South Korea.)

We’re doing our part and we’re fighting a war to help kill the people who attacked you. You aren’t being asked to spend a penny on our defense. The least you could do is be aware of it, for Christ’s sake.