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Human Rights Watch has recently criticised abuses by the Iraqi government. Several postings have asked why HRW ignores the sanctions and bombing, if it's so keen on human rights. I find this question disingenuous. First, human rights organisations frequently confine themselves to abuses by a state inside its 'own' territory; this is why HRW can, without inconsistency, condemn the Russian action in Chechnya. If Turkey now invaded another part of the Russian Caucasus, we would not expect HRW to mute its criticisms of Russia. Second, war on another state and its effect on civilians are not normally the concern of human rights organisations, unless there is outright occupation; I imagine this is because Rights were conceived historically as allowing claims against one's 'own' government and enforced in national courts. In support of this reading, the International Declaration of Human Rights notes only that "Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent *national* tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law" (my emphasis). Difficult to see how a person might seek a remedy against Britain for violating a right he may not even have in Iraq. It is in our interests to keep the definition of human rights narrow; once they have expanded, like the International Declaration ragbag, to include both the lofty and the occasional - the right to life; the right to take part in scientific development - then human rights become the rhetorical flourish of speechmakers and convention drafters, and not a list of minimal demands that any person can expect irrespective of the complexion of their government. In this regard, we can't expect HRW to campaign for the right of Iraqis not to get dysentery as a result of shortages caused by Tony Blair. That's our job instead. J Vernon -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi