The U.N. human rights commissioner says ‘shame is in retreat.’ He’s right.
Mr. Zeid didn’t shrink from naming the places and people who are violating basic norms. He cited Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who recently said “we did not want our color . . . to be mixed in with others,” and a Polish minister who said Jews were among the perpetrators of the Holocaust. He spoke of “young girls in El Salvador . . . sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for miscarriages”; of the jailing of journalists “in huge numbers” in Turkey and a human rights defender in Bahrain; of people who “can be killed by police with impunity, because they are poor”; and of ethnic Rohingya in Burma, who are “dehumanized, deprived and slaughtered in their homes.”
Mr. Zeid’s most important point concerned the larger effect on international order of disregarding atrocities. Countries tend to set aside human rights problems as “too sensitive,” he said, consigning them to the often fruitless sessions of the Human Rights Council. But, he said, “it is the accumulating human rights violations such as these, and not a lack of GDP growth, which will spark the conflicts that can break the world.”
“Why are we doing so little to stop them,” Mr. Zeid asked, “even though we should know how dangerous all of this is?” There is, today, no more relevant question.