Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 11 items for

  • Author or Editor: Stuart Rees x
Clear All Modify Search
Challenges, Opportunities and Responsibilities
Author:

Cruelty has long been a feature of states’ domestic and foreign policies but is seldom acknowledged. Governments mouth respect for human rights yet promote discrimination, violence and suppression of critics.

Documenting case studies from around the world, distinguished academic and human rights activist Stuart Rees exposes politicians’ cruel motives and the resulting outcomes. Using his first-hand observations and insights from international poets, he argues for courageous action to support non-violence in every aspect of public and private life for the survival of people, animals and the planet.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter addresses the causes of cruelty. It covers a continuum of explanations from the banality of evil to automaton-like behaviour in bureaucracies, from pleasures derived from sadism to the cruelties fostered by selfishness. The banality thesis identifies widespread acceptance of cruelties if legitimized by states, their governments, their policies and/or by other powerful institutions. Analysis of conditioned behaviour refers largely to operators of state and non-state organizations who keep the wheels of cruelty turning, yet such personnel usually remain invisible, inaccessible, and non-accountable. Completing the cruelty puzzles requires accounts of sadistic behaviour, which is embedded as much in cultures of violence as in the pathology of any one person. The explanations overlap but have distinct characteristics. The chapter also considers cruelty driven by managerial demands for efficiency, a powerfully addictive notion which is not value neutral, and looks at the civil war between Colombian government forces and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels in Colombia.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter assesses four ways cruelties have been formed and fomented in policies. It moves from cruelty as a deliberate motive to situations where it looks as though the architects of policies enabled cruelties to take place but did not direct them. Then come the denials and deception: who could possibly think that countries such as the United States, Russia, Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, or Myanmar would indulge in human rights abuses such as collective punishments, ethnic cleansing, floggings, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, targeted killings, and executions? Finally, there is collusion. Alliances are made with countries which commit cruelties but their allies behave as though this is nothing to do with them. When the United States ignores Israeli cruelty to Palestinian children, that is collusion. The European Union and the United Nations may also collude by silence which encourages perpetrators.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter identifies the social, religious, political, economic, and cultural forces which facilitate cruelties. It reveals patterns of values, attitudes, and behaviour, beginning with the age-old stigmatizing of victims. Such negative labelling is implemented in policies of national inclusiveness: whom to regard as normal and worthy, as compared to policies of exclusiveness which designate whom to see as abnormal and unworthy. Even where notorious killers and torturers could be identified, the moral and cultural contexts of their acts require an examination, which includes cruelty to animals and violence to the environment. The chapter also looks at the evils of violent cultures, such as the security politics of Israel, Iran’s authoritarian theocracy, America’s love of imprisonment, and entrenched discrimination in the Indian caste system.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter highlights the need to recover respect for human rights, for humanitarian law, and for the ideals written into the UN Charter. Those who craft policies could support areas of public life which either have not appeared on their radar or have not been perceived as having anything to do with cruelty. To that end, priority tasks in education for humanity concern issues which have been given insufficient emphasis. These issues include the erosion of human rights principles; reminders about the ways in which free market economic policies enable corporations to contribute to poverty and to cruelty to children; evidence of the increase in cruelty to animals; and the cruelties associated with the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons. The chapter underlines the responsibilities of teachers, in schools, in colleges, and universities, plus journalists of every description, to educate about rebuilding civil societies through advocacy of human rights, including protection of a precious planet, and by supporting public institutions and services.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter focuses on humanitarian alternatives as a response to the persistence of cruelty worldwide. It explores the diverse forms of advocacy for a common humanity through literacy about non-violence and for the health-promoting values of creative, non-destructive uses of power. A common humanity refers to a quality of living, as in the enjoyment of political and economic rights, and to a set of values, as in the acknowledgement of responsibility to care for others. Commitment to ‘humanity’ includes a moral imperative to respect such rights and to live by such values and begins by assessing the ways in which power is exercised. Ultimately, the philosophy, language, and practice of non-violence offers the fulfilling alternative to a global fascination with punishment and other forms of violence. In commentary about the vision required to build an economy not based on inequalities and injustices, the chapter also assesses the place of technology, whether it is help or hindrance.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter details individual cases of cruelty which illustrate the character of perpetrators, whether governments, state institutions, or individuals, and the awfulness experienced by the victims. In each of these cases, individuals lived in contexts of discrimination and violence. Political forces, government policies, and cultural influences prepared the stage and built the contexts. Examples cover the plights of asylum seekers, refugees, immigrants, prisoners, and indigenous peoples. The chapter also discusses the mass murders of the 20th century, several of which are counted as genocides. Despite the ‘never again’ motives of those who crafted the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the small print of the Geneva Conventions, those genocides gave momentum to cruelty which has not been easy to stop. The chapter then argues that citizens who stay silent about cruelty may be as responsible as the leaders of governments, as responsible as the members of police forces and military who obey politicians’ orders. From 2000, participants in cruelty could include media personnel; they may say or write nothing about inhumanities presented to them, thereby enabling the public to remain ignorant or indifferent to suffering.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter discusses how seizing the opportunities to remove cruelties depends on enthusiasm for a revived democratic politics, plus facility in language to reinterpret human rights, advocate UN peace-keeping responsibilities, and promote the principles of humane governance. A language for humanity includes questions of identity, ideals of humane governance, and determination not to be cruel to future generations. Politicians have been curtailing freedoms in the interests of ‘security’, allegedly to make nation-states more efficient and to combat terrorist threats. These developments, coupled to a burning planet, display immediate crises. Instead of undue reverence for the integrity of nation-states, humane governance would champion the principle of the Responsibility to Protect. Advocacy of humane governance rests on indictments of the worst effects of capitalism: worldwide inequity, the invisible powers of corporations and appropriation of resources, impoverishment, huge incidence of mental illness, and vast numbers of people feeling worthless.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter argues that in analyses of cruelty, if the rules and niceties of social commentary and academic rigour are removed, the chequered picture of subtle and not-so-subtle differences in cruelty is lost. Instead, there emerges a stark, almost universal picture of human rights being derided and any respect for a common humanity thrown on a bonfire, literally in some cases. That trend shows the danger of not paying serious attention to cruelty as policy. The chapter contends that humanity would benefit from admissions that cruelty is present in the motives of policy makers, in the hate-filled attitudes of religious and political extremists, and in the cowardly indifference of media commentators. If cruelty is acknowledged to be significant in a range of values and policies, crucial to the operation of bureaucracies and in the conduct of international relations, there is a responsibility to ensure that such conduct is exposed, challenged, and eliminated.

Restricted access
Author:

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the role of cruelty in politics, in the design and implementation of state policies and in non-state responses. Cruel acts and policies are worldwide, though the United Nations has set prohibitions on cruelty which represent global standards. If truths about worldwide cruelties become evident, the elimination of such practices should become a key consideration in any future crafting of policies and in the advocacy of values which influence political cultures. Advocacy of humanitarian alternatives to cruelty would depend on the spirit of universal human rights, challenges to oppressive uses of power, and the promotion of policies to address social and economic inequalities. The chapter then explains how understanding cruelty can be made easier by theory about patterns which persist irrespective of differences between countries and cultures. A first step in theorizing concerns the common ground between degrees of cruelty. Somewhat ironically, an understanding of humanity derives from observing cruelty, and provides the rationale for ‘humanitarian alternatives’.

Full Access