Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:
On lifting embargoes against China:
LONDON — The European Union has been both unprincipled and inept over its arms embargo on China. The move to lift it has been led by [French President] Jacques Chirac, who thinks it “groundless and illogical.” Germany, the biggest European exporter to China, supports its removal. And [British Foreign Secretary] Jack Straw has said that to lump China in with Burma and Zimbabwe, both of which are under similar sanctions, is “not appropriate.”
Replying to such specious self-justification, it is worth recalling that the embargo was introduced after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Since then, Beijing has refused to revise its verdict that the peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrations amounted to a “counterrevolutionary rebellion.” Zhao Ziyang, the Communist Party chief who pleaded with the students to call off their protest before it was too late, remained under house arrest until his death in January.
China has still to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. And reports by human rights monitors suggest that, while there has been progress in recent years, it is not enough to warrant lifting the embargo.
On human rights abuses and the international community:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — This is one issue which would see the so-called developed and developing world come together in a single, all-inclusive category. When it comes to respect for human rights, few states — from all-powerful superpowers to impoverished states of Africa to practicing democracies of Asia — pass the crucial test with flying colors.
In fact, human rights groups point out, half of the member states peopling the U.N. Human Rights Commission are guilty of the worst kind of rights abuses and violations. The U.N. Human Rights Commission, which met in Geneva last week as part of its annual exercise to scrutinize respect for fundamental rights, faces the big question: who will and how to bell the cat.
While human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are clamoring for action against a number of rights violators — from Russia, Nepal, Sudan and, of course, the United States, to North Korea and China etc. — there is no mechanism or, to put it more plainly, political muscle enabling the United Nations to act or at least pull up those responsible.
On media attention to world crises:
MANILA — A survey … has cited 10 significant crises that aid experts said had been neglected by the world media.
The most neglected humanitarian hot spots, the aid experts said, included the crises in Congo, northern Uganda, western and southern Sudan, West Africa, Colombia, Chechnya, Nepal and Haiti.
The United Nations’ list is longer: 21, including Eritrea, Somalia, Tajikistan, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territories.
The experts also called attention to the global AIDS pandemic and infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.
These crises have killed millions, and leave thousands traumatized by torture, rape, imprisonment, arson, starvation and diseases, yet they had been ignored by the international media. Why? …
On Jan. 12, President George W. Bush asked Americans not to let their contributions to the tsunami victims replace their charity to other parts of the world, referring to the humanitarian crises in Central Africa.
The forgotten crises never make it to the world’s front pages, but they cry out for help from individuals, organizations and nations.
Public contributions are an important investment. Turmoil is much cheaper to avert, according to [U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan] Egeland, than to fix once it has erupted.