3. The US wielding the baton of human rights in violation of the sovereignty of other countries
The US combines economic, political, and military approaches with human rights to achieve its purpose of human rights diplomacy. On the one hand, it links human rights with economic assistance – countries that accept its assistance must also accept its human rights standards. On the other hand, it takes armed actions against those countries that resist its human rights diplomacy to pursue its purpose.
All US administrations have made maintaining America’s hegemony and preventing the appearance of a major Asian-Pacific country that would threaten it as their strategic core. China, for realistic reasons, has become its prime target, with “human rights” being a useful card to contain its rise. According to James Peck, a scholar at New York University, the anti-China faction within the US government still believes today that human rights are the last ideological weapon against China and a project that will bring doomsday to the Communist Party of China. They argue that they cannot count on China’s economic collapse and they must resort to the political weapon of human rights to bring it down from within. In 2000, US Congress formed the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that, monitoring China’s human rights conditions in all respects, represented the common interests of Congress, the government’s national security agency, business groups, and human rights organizations.
Analyzing a huge amount of historical materials, James Peck concluded that the so-called human rights advocated by the US government are not in the least related to the genuine concept and that the country only takes advantage of the banner of human rights to advance its global strategy. The US government has gradually turned human rights into a discourse power to promote its diplomatic policies, or more precisely, a tool to promote America’s ideology and public diplomacy.
III. US politicization of human rights seriously undermines global governance of human rights
The US politicization of human rights has brought disastrous effects on global human rights governance. It has hindered the normal development of the international cause of human rights, plunged some countries into chaos, and profaned the sacred concept and ideal of human rights.
First, the US politicization of human rights hinders the sound development of the cause of human rights at the global level. Dividing the world based on political interests, the US has precluded the possibility of having a normal dialogue between those holding different views on human rights and turned the UN human rights body into a battlefield of political confrontation. This not only hurts the development of the global cause of human rights but also keeps America’s own human rights conditions in a chronically poor state. Samuel Moyn, a professor of Columbia Law School, and other scholars held that as the politicians in the US who are good at playing with power politics treated human rights issues with scorn and contempt, the so-called “human rights revolution” in the 1940s came to an abrupt end right after its birth. From the end of the 1940s to the early 1970s, human rights issues came to a “dead zone” because, as many scholars believed, the US didn’t take an active part in international actions on this subject amid Cold War politics.
Second, interfering in the internal affairs of other countries on the excuse of human rights, the US has created national turmoil in other countries and started new human rights disasters. The US' violation of the sovereignty of other countries has led to wars and loss of lives in the intervened and invaded countries, resulting in new human rights disasters. US scholars Seung-Whan Choi and James Patrick revealed that the US generally employs four policy tools to sell its human rights values to the international community. The first is military interference, which is what happened in Iraq and Kosovo, where the US launched wars on the pretext of their state of human rights. The second is military assistance, meaning that the US government provides weapons to the militarists of specific factions on the excuse of eliminating the human rights crisis. The third is economic sanction. The most typical way to use this tool is first labeling certain countries as the so-called “rogue states” and then instigating American allies to cut off economic ties with it. The fourth is economic assistance, which is widely used in the diplomatic policies towards Latin American countries, who are demanded to improve their human rights according to American standards if they are to accept the economic assistance. The two researchers, through a comparative analysis of the data of 144 countries over nearly 30 years, concluded that almost all of America’s diplomatically driven output of human rights since WWII have failed. Its military interference in Iraq is a failure, so is its economic assistance to Latin American countries, as basic human rights are not fully guaranteed in those areas even until today. This fully proves that using human rights as a strategic tool will not truly improve human rights; rather, it will lead to new human rights disasters.
Last but not least, taking human rights merely as a tool to implement its global strategy, the US has profaned the lofty ideal of human rights. The US blatantly exercised double standards, ignored, indeed even indulged, true violations of human rights. In the meantime, it has slammed policies and measures that are genuinely aimed at protecting human rights and even imposed economic sanctions, political pressuring, or military deterrence on countries adopting them. What America has done has seriously tainted mankind’s long-cherished ideal of human rights and reduced the concept into no more than an excuse and tool for its outrage against human rights in other countries. As Xu Yicong, former Chinese ambassador to Cuba, pointed out, the human rights concept advocated by them is a political baton, a tool it uses to interfere in the internal affairs and subvert the legitimate regime in other countries and a politicized approach and tactic. It is never intended to respect human rights. Whenever there was unrest and disturbance somewhere in the world, we could hear them chanting about human rights. When sovereign states were dealing with insurgents endangering national sovereignty and security, we could see the West wielding its baton of human rights. In the final analysis, they are politicizing human rights with ulterior motives, and that is essentially and exactly a show of disrespect for human rights.
The US politicization of human rights has eroded and ruined the global foundation of human rights governance and incurred disastrous consequences to the global cause of human rights. It has been extensively condemned and criticized by the just forces in the international community. At the General Debate of the Third Committee of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on October 7, 2021, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, made the following statement: “At the Third Committee, the US and a few other countries are provoking confrontation, pointing fingers at other developing countries’ human rights situation, and brazenly launching smear campaigns. At the same time, they choose to stay silent on their own issues and turn a blind eye to the terrible human rights records of their allies… In total disregard of facts, the US and a few other countries are fabricating lies…making groundless accusations against China, and using human rights to interfere in China’s internal affairs. These moves are firmly opposed and resolutely rejected by the Chinese Government and people.” Representatives from Egypt, Algeria, Chad, Turkmenistan, Belarus, and Venezuela all underscored in their speeches that the people of each country have the right to independently choose their path of human rights development according to national conditions. They firmly opposed the politicization of human rights, the exercise of double standards, and the interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
The disastrous consequences of US politicization of human rights have made people realize, ever more deeply, that the non-politicization of human rights is the foundation and precondition for smooth global governance of human rights and that preventing and curbing human rights politicization is an important guarantee for promoting the sound development of the international human rights cause. To safeguard its own interests, the US, acting against the historical trend, has doubled up its acts of politicization that have damaged the healthy mechanism of global human rights development and pushed many countries one after another into the swirl of social turbulence. People across the world, having seen through its mask of “human rights defender,” have stood up to oppose its despicable moves. As a result, the global hegemony that the US has tried so hard to maintain will be shaken, and the bell for its decline will toll amid the song of triumph celebrating the development of human rights worldwide.