The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out an ideal that any responsible person tries to put into practice. But not all evils can be fought at once. It therefore establishes a hierarchy between these rights so that we can make a real difference. In order to better hide their crimes, some powers accuse others of violating human rights. Sometimes the tree hides the forest.
- On December 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly, meeting in Paris at the Palais de Chaillot, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Gradually, humanity has formulated the ideal of equality of the human person: "Human Rights". Many nations claim to have anticipated it before it was synthesized by the United Nations. Over time, many have used this notion without understanding it in its ethnological dimension and have distorted it.
The heated debate in the Security Council on September 19, 2019 showed how "human rights" have been abused to the point of being used in the wrong direction.
All over the world and at all times, leaders have tried to affirm that men are equal in rights. The oldest known examples are attested to by the cylinder of the Persian emperor Cyrus (5th century BC) - a replica of which adorns the headquarters of the United Nations - which establishes freedom of worship; or by the Edicts of the Indian emperor Asoka (2nd century BC) which prohibited the torture of all animals, including humans. These monarchs overturned the laws of their countries in the name of rules they thought were universal.
With reference to the construction of modern law, the English Magna Carta (13th century) states that no subject can be imprisoned without a fair trial. It is complemented by the Bill of Rights, which in the 17th century lists the rights of people and those of Parliament. It was in this same spirit that James Madison wrote the American Bill of Rights a century later. The latter limits the power of the federal government alone, but not that of the states. The Anglo-Saxon tradition affirms individual rights and protects them against "state logic".
The question was asked in a radically new way by the French Constituent Assembly in 1789. According to the Assembly, to affirm ontological equality between the subjects and their sovereign, it is not enough to limit the absolute power of the monarch, it must be assumed that power comes from the people and cannot be exercised against them. This text was unanimously approved, including by the representatives of the Church of France (but it was later rejected for a time by the Papacy), by those of the nobility and by King Louis XVI. It is no longer a question of "Human Rights", but of "Human and Citizen Rights".
In the 19th century, the Swiss Henry Dunant tried to protect the rights of men involved in wars when states violated their own rules. This was Humanitarian Law.
It is this set of different cultures, and many others, that the United Nations summarized in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is "universal", not because it is willed by God or derived from Nature, but only because it is shared by the 193 Member States.
First, it states that all human beings are born "free and equal in dignity and rights", and that they are responsible not only for themselves, but for each other (art. 1).
For the first time, it affirms that human rights are not only the same in each country, but despite their country (art. 2); something the League of Nations had refused to do in order to protect the colonial system. And finally, there is a hierarchy between these Rights, the most important of which are "life, freedom and security" (art. 3); because it is not a question of establishing a catalogue of contradictory good intentions, but of organizing global society. Then comes the fight against slavery (art. 4) and only then the fight against torture (art. 5). All these principles are important, but they can only be achieved in this order.
Today, in developed countries, at peace and free from slavery, we think of human rights only as a fight against torture and for fair justice. It’s a luxury that many others don’t have.
From the moment it was signed, this edifice was challenged by the very people who had developed it, in particular by the United Kingdom and its "humanitarian intervention". The British Empire had invented this concept in the 19th century not to help oppressed populations, but to bring down the Ottoman Empire. It took it up again during the Cold War to fight against China and the USSR. History has it that it was carried on by the French Bernard Kouchner by instrumenting the fate of the boat people. He staged the rescue of refugees wandering on overcrowded boats, not hesitating to throw these men back into the sea to "make a new take" in front of the cameras.
The emotion caused by these images automatically evoked empathy for them. But the horrible fate of these victims told us nothing about the supposed accuracy of their struggle and even less about the supposed illegitimacy of their governments. This same technique is now used to communicate the fate of migrants in the Mediterranean. The atrocious drowning of thousands of them tells us nothing about the causes of their departure and does not validate their right to enter others’ homes. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. Only reflection and not emotion can decide.
The Humanitarian Initiative of Germany, Belgium and Kuwait for Idleb
Let us now turn to the Security Council debate of September 19, 2019. Belgium, Germany and Kuwait submitted a draft resolution (S/2019/756) to save civilians in the governorate of Idleb who have been massacred by Syrian and Russian armies fighting terrorism indiscriminately. This document was preceded by an intense campaign reporting on the bombing of hospitals and the difficult living conditions of civilians hostile to the regime of the cruel dictator "Bashar".
It must be noted that, after verification, there have never been any duly listed hospitals that have been bombed; that it is impossible to establish statistics on a battlefield so that each person claims to establish by extrapolation his own, diverse and contradictory figures, including the different UN agencies. However, the fact that, in this war, we cannot quantify events undermines the way we interpret them.
Similar draft resolutions had been tabled by Westerners during the battles of Aleppo and Ghouta in Damascus. They had encountered the vets of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. However, no draft resolutions had been submitted during the battle of Raqqa, which was infinitely more destructive and deadly. The only difference being that Raqqa was razed to the ground by the Western Coalition and not by the Syrian-Russian armies. In other words, if the fate of the victims is so tragic in all four cases, it is only condemnable according to Germany, Belgium and Kuwait when it is attributable to the Syro-Russians, not when it is caused by the West.
It should be noted that the soldiers present on the ground observed the blindness of the Western Coalition in which they were fighting and compared it to the selectivity of Syrian-Russian forces. It was for reporting these atrocities to the Pentagon’s Inspector General that 50 CentCom analysts were punished. It was for having reported his shame and anger in the Revue Défense Nationale that French Colonel François-Régis Legrier was severely punished.
The idea of Germany, Belgium and Kuwait that the "Bashar regime" would kill its own people under the guise of fighting terrorism reverses the ideal of "human rights". Indeed, when we speak here of the fight against terrorism, we are not referring to a few individuals killing with Kalashnikovs or beheading concert hall spectators, but to tens of thousands of fighters rushing towards the population to impose a regime of oppression on them. The first duty of the "Bashar regime" is to save its population from this fierce army, to restore its right to "life, freedom and security".
Even if one denies European support for the Idleb jihadists, Germany and Belgium cannot claim good faith: they refuse to repatriate the hundreds of their nationals who practise jihad and who have surrendered to the US forces and are now prisoners of Kurdish auxiliaries. They are therefore fully aware of the danger they represent. They can take pride in their refusal to accept the death penalty at home when they discreetly ask other governments to hang them in their place.
The Humanitarian Hypocrisy of Germany, Belgium and Kuwait
Having noted the double-talk of Germany, Belgium and Kuwait, let us look at the hidden reasons behind their draft resolution. Westerners have supported al-Qaeda jihadists in the hope that they would overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic. It was an extension of the strategy that worked for them in Libya. In 2011, jihadists from the Islamic Group Fighting in Libya (ICGL), who had been integrated into al-Qaeda, were transported by the CIA from Iraq - where they were fighting - to their country of origin, Libya. They provided ground troops for NATO’s air operation. They were then transported by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (then headed by the current UN Secretary General, António Guterres) and the Turkish secret services to Syria where they formed the Free Syrian Army. When it proved impossible to overthrow the "Bashar regime", the Anglo-Saxons abandoned most jihadists, but the Germans and the French felt a responsibility towards them. They were regrouped in the governorate of Idleb where they created several Islamic Emirates. Germany and France continue to arm them and still subsidise the NGOs that feed them.
Germany and France are therefore supportive parties to the war they denounce. As it happens, President Emmanuel Macron, seeking to pacify Paris’ relations with Moscow, did not sign the German draft resolution, but asked his faithful Charles Michel to do so on behalf of Belgium. Kuwait was added without anyone knowing how much it is spending today on jihadists in Idleb, but the demonstrations of support in that country are reminiscent of the time when Salafist movements there were raising $400 million for jihad in Syria.
By tabling this draft resolution, Germany, Belgium and Kuwait knew that it would provoke the fury of China and Russia. Yet they chose to divide the Security Council and thus weaken its authority. This behaviour is explained by the fear that the dividing lines will evolve, under the impetus of President Trump. The traditional opposition of the West against Russia and China could be replaced by a global Russia/USA/China directory . Germany is therefore trying to mobilize the Western camp, which has been successful, but at what cost. Continuing their momentum, Belgium, Germany and Kuwait have taken the matter to the General Assembly to bypass the Security Council’s veto. They submitted a new 10-page draft resolution (A/HRC/42/L.22) condemning the Syrian Arab Republic.
They did not hesitate to do so though they no longer have the pretext of the liberation of Idleb by Syrian troops, for the fighting has ceased since the proclamation of a unilateral ceasefire by Damascus on September 1st at 00h00. The "Bashar regime" paused to facilitate the escape of its citizens trapped by the jihadist occupier.
In passing, the United States representative on the Council, Kelly Knight Craft, offered herself the luxury of accusing China of imitating Russia by using its veto (S/PV.8623); a much-needed insult when you consider Beijing’s patient desire for an independent and decisive foreign policy. This process is once again a way for the Western camp to deny the equality of peoples and demonstrate its supposed superiority.
Bashar al-Assad, human rights defender
Let us now look at the Syrian point of view. According to the international press, a popular revolution started in 2011 in Syria, which unfortunately went wrong and turned into a civil war. If this version of the facts could be believed in 2011, it is no longer possible today given the many documents that have emerged. This war had been planned by Washington since 2001 and began in the context of the "Arab springs", planned by London since 2004 on the model of Lawrence of Arabia’s "Great Arab Revolt". Saudi Arabia admitted to having paid and armed in advance the Deraa rioters who launched the movement.
The primary responsibility of the Syrian Arab Republic, its people, its army and its President, Bashar al-Assad, was to defend the universal human rights of "life, liberty and security". This is what they did when faced with hordes of jihadists from all over the world who came to place the Muslim Brotherhood in power.
There is no doubt that criminals have been able to join the police and army of the Republic; that in the confusion of the war, they have been able to pursue their crimes by wearing uniforms; but these behaviours, which are found in all wars, have nothing to do with these wars themselves. Since the arms has inverted itself, they are severely punished.
There is no doubt that the bombardments by Syrian artillery and Russian air force have not only killed jihadist targets, but also collaterally killed Syrian citizens who were held hostage by jihadists. Killing one’s own people too is unfortunately the burden of all wars. However, their martyrdom is not the responsibility of the Syrian people, their army and their president, who are mourning them. It is the responsibility of the aggressors, including Germany and France, who wanted it.
Libya is not comparable to Syria. But eight years after NATO’s operation, we have a clearer vision of what happened.
Muamar Gaddafi reconciled the Bantu and Arabs, put an end to slavery and raised the standard of living of his people considerably. He is described as a dictator although he has not killed more political opponents than Western heads of state or government. To overthrow the Jamahiriya, NATO relied on Al Qaeda fighters, the Misrata tribe and the Senusi Brotherhood. It killed about 120,000 people. The next step had been anticipated by many analysts: the standard of living has collapsed, slavery had been restored, and the conflict between Arabs and Bantu is spreading throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Without any reasonable doubt, Muamar Gaddafi has defended human rights better in his country and continent than NATO has.
In Syria, Bashar al-Assad has preserved the confessional mosaic that exists nowhere else in the world, developed its economy and negotiated a tacit peace with Israel. His people and army have felt the martyrdom of at least 350,000 of their own people. The country is now devastated and Israel has once again become an enemy. The responsibility for these misfortunes lies solely with the aggressor States. The Syrians, their army and their President, Bashar al-Assad, as best they could , have defended human rights, which the Westerners trampled underfoot.
Westerners are convinced of the moral superiority of their civilization. So they don’t see their own crimes, which others endure. It is precisely this arrogance that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights challenges by stating that everyone is equal in law and dignity.