Repudiating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The extreme poverty in Haiti is widely acknowledged in the corporate media commentary, but for the most part, it is blamed on some flaw intrinsic to Haitians as a nation.

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When Haitians did gain a semblance of control over their fate, with the election of their first president, regimes in France, the United States, and Canada — even the United Nations — blocked Haitian sovereignty.

The abduction and imposed exile of Haiti’s elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide by US forces in collusion with French and Canadian forces is a violation of Article 55 of the UN Charter which calls for “… the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples…”

When a people are denied the right to choose and keep their president, self-determination is rendered moot.

Article 55 also promotes “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.” [italics added]

This article examines the respect for human rights by American, Canadian, and French governments in relation to the removal of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights will serve as arbiter since France, the United States, and Canada are signatories to it. In fact, all three countries assert pride of place in the UDHR. The French tell of the “considerable role” their diplomat René Cassin played in drafting discussions and of the decision for a “universal” rather than a more limited “international” declaration.1 Americans point to the “leading role” and “driving force” of Eleanor Roosevelt in the creation of the UDHR.2 Canada trumpets that its citizen, John Humphrey was the writer of the UDHR wherein “the state would no longer be above the law.”

UHDR and States Above the Law

Article 9 states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” While sides might argue whether Aristide resigned or was abducted (granted one side’s veracity is severely impugned3), clearly Aristide is prevented from returning despite the will of a multitude of Haitians. The BBC indicates that the US is behind the exile.4

The imposed exile of Aristide is a violation of Article 13 (2), which holds, “Everyone has the right to … return to his country.”

Without the right of return, Article 13 (1)’s “right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state” is moot.

In effect, Aristide’s exile also contravenes Article 15 on rights to a nationality. Aristide has been removed from Haitian jurisdiction and state protection. Customarily, it is the right of each state to determine who its nationals are.5

Obviously, the electoral rights in Article 21 are in abeyance for Aristide.

In closing, Article 30 declares, “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.”

Judging from the UHDR articles described here, it appears that Canada, France, and the US are engaged in the destruction of human rights. Such impunity does not augur well for a world based on justice applied equally to everyone.6

The UHDR may not not legally binding, but when a nation pledges itself by virtue of its signature, then there is an ethical obligation to uphold agreements, conventions, treaties, declarations, constitutions, etc. It is egregious enough that a nation engages in the destruction of another nation, a nation weakened because of a long history of violence against it, but when a nation compounds this perfidy through open defiance of its raison d’être (would any moral nation deny that it exists for the good of its people and the wider humanity?) what are the citizens of such nations to think? More importantly, what are the citizenry to do? What is their moral obligation?

  1. Georges-Henri Soutou, “France and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,” France Diplomatie. []
  2. Eleanor Roosevelt & the Declaration of Human Rights,” fawco.org. []
  3. See Kim Petersen, “Grasping at Straws: Searching for a War Pretext,” Dissident Voice, 4 March 2003. []
  4. Thousands demand Aristide return,” BBC News, 16 July 2006. []
  5. See “Nationality,” Wikipedia. []
  6. See International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States, Edited by Nils Andersson, Daniel Iagolnitzer, and Diana G. Collier (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2008). []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 27th, 2010 at 10:59am #

    Ah, that darn question popping up once again in my head: is there any ‘law’ that had not been written by the ogrish Them? Is there any ‘law’ pertaining to int’l {or even interpersonal} level that Them, owners of us, hadn’t broken?
    Haven’t we everywhere-when lived until very recently in lawlesness?
    And under judgments of Their ‘judges’? Their priests, also? Not to mention ?all collumnists, ‘educators’, starry ‘stars’ and farts?

    Way off? Apodicticly, exists!! Education, along establishment of our party, which will write our laws, etc! Our laws are coming! tnx

  2. john said on January 28th, 2010 at 1:47am #

    The people have no moral responsibility to act on anything until they are properly informed. Indeed, it’s better that they don’t act.

    This fact is of course used daily by our rulers by ensuring that the people are never properly informed about anything – from the moment they start school through the rest of their lives.

    Therefore our first and overriding mission must be to inform, to spread the truth – which is why, presumably, DV exists. (Can I suggest a reading list on your otherwise excellent site, DV?)

    At the moment well informed people are a desperately small minority. The first sign that that situation is changing will be when people stop bothering to vote in elections in serious numbers. That will be the first real indication that the game is up, and that the people are starting to understand that the system is rigged against them. Then, and only then will there be a realistic chance to reform the system.

    Free Democracy is a solution.
    http://www.freedemocrats.co.uk

  3. MichaelKenny said on January 28th, 2010 at 8:44am #

    The problem I have with this is that it is based on nothing. The claim that Aristide was kidnapped by the US and France was made by Aristide himself and there is no evidence, either way, in regard to it. Mr Petersen relies on the BBC but aren’t we constantly reading on this website how unrelia ble the BBC is in regard to Palestine? Why should it any less unreliable in regard to Haiti, a country which European media outlets have largely ignored? Moreover, Aristide himself has provided no evidence in support of his claim or even said what grounds he had to suspect foreign involvement. It sounds a little bit too much like the famous “outside agitators” argument. France has no interests in Haiti and I don’t see why it would give a damn who rules there. As for Canada, nobody except Mr Petersen claims that it was involved. It all sounds like the “America rules the world”, “Europe in America’s pocket” and “Canada, the ever-faithful labrador” propaganda lines!

  4. Kim Petersen said on January 28th, 2010 at 9:28am #

    Mr Kenny,

    With all due respect, I recommend that you checks your facts and logic to avoid self-embarrassment.

    MK: The problem I have with this is that it is based on nothing. The claim that Aristide was kidnapped by the US and France was made by Aristide himself and there is no evidence, either way, in regard to it.

    It seems that you only read the article superficially. Otherwise you would have noticed that I wrote: “While sides might argue whether Aristide resigned or was abducted … clearly Aristide is prevented from returning despite the will of a multitude of Haitians.” I focused on the indisputable exile.

    MK: Mr Petersen relies on the BBC but aren’t we constantly reading on this website how unrelia ble the BBC is in regard to Palestine?

    If you read Herman and Chomsky’s Manfacturing Consent, they note that information does seep through the corporate (or state) media, although it is marginalized.

    But it seems as if your demand is for multiple footnoting. Please do an online search on : haiti+aristide+abduction. There are a plethora of news and information sites that will verify the point you dispute. MSNBC points out that the Aristides wish to return, but they are in (agentless) exile. I assume that readers have the powers of critical thinking, that they can find other sources of information on their own, and arrive at their own conclusions.

    MK: Why should it any less unreliable in regard to Haiti, a country which European media outlets have largely ignored?

    In the case of Haiti, British interests are less involved. Britain, historically and contemporaneously, has little stock in Haiti; therefore, there is room for more latitude in reporting.

    MK: France has no interests in Haiti and I don’t see why it would give a damn who rules there.

    Really? Then you must be unaware that Haiti, under Aristide, has demanded reparations from France. Search and find out for yourself (haiti+reparations+france+aristide). $21 billion or so dollars sounds like something to “give a damn” about.

    MK: As for Canada, nobody except Mr Petersen claims that it was involved.

    So I am the only one? Obviously, you did not do an online search (I suggest: haiti+canada+imperialism) nor did you view the first video in the article. In it, Anthony Fenton (who with co-author Yves Engler wrote Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority) describes Canada’s tainted hand in Haiti.

    MK: It all sounds like the “America rules the world”, “Europe in America’s pocket” and “Canada, the ever-faithful labrador” propaganda lines!

    So you deny US hegemony? Doesn’t matter, the article was about adherence to the UDHR.

  5. rosemarie jackowski said on January 29th, 2010 at 9:14am #

    The US has had a long-standing policy of abuse, exploitation, and racism against the Haitian people. Just compare the US immigration policies of Cubans and Haitians. Cubans welcome – Haitians left to perish at sea.

    The US owes reparations to Haiti for all of the harm US policies have done there.

    Now the challenge will be keeping US corporations out of there so that the rebuilding will not be compromised by US corporate greed. Good luck to the people of Haiti. I hope they can recapture their country from US corporations and the US Empire.

  6. Deadbeat said on January 29th, 2010 at 1:04pm #

    Unfortunately US corporations are going to be part of the rebuilding process. Where do you think the money is going to come from as well as its administration. Contractors are already crawling over Haiti. Some of those 10000 “aid” organizations that operate in Haiti are corporate sponsored. There’s only going to be more displacement of the Haitian people

  7. kalidas said on January 30th, 2010 at 4:12pm #

    And their, well, formerly their organs.