An interview with Carroll Bogart, the associate director of Human Rights Watch (HRW):
With a new US president, international crises from Gaza to Sri Lanka, and continued political impediments to international justice, 2009 has been a busy year for those working in the field of human rights.
On Human Rights Day (December 10), Carroll Bogart, the associate director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), shares her views on some of the key moments of the past year and looks ahead to what 2010 might hold.
Al Jazeera: At the end of 2008, there was a tremendous amount of hope being invested in Barack Obama, the US president. But then there was the reality of Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and the human rights issues that went along with that. What was HRW's take on what happened in Gaza, and on the silence from the president-elect?
Carroll Bogart: I'm not sure that realistically we would have expected anything different from any US administration, since they certainly have a policy of avoiding any discussion of justice where Israel and the Middle East are concerned.
So that was not new, and I wouldn't say we were surprised. At the same time, of course we were disappointed, because we think the only way to have a genuine peace process is [to have] one that is based on justice and recognition of crimes committed by both sides in Operation Cast Lead.
We were really disappointed that the rhetoric on the Goldstone Report was so sharp. They slammed the door on Goldstone. They could have done that differently, and I think it was a mistake.
What would you have liked to have seen done differently?
For the US administration to say it is extremely important that both sides investigate and punish the perpetrators of any war crimes or other serious violations of human rights in the context of the Gaza War. That's not so hard to do.
This was the best opportunity not only to hold the Israel Defence Forces to account for what happened in Gaza, but also to hold Hamas accountable for what happened in Gaza.
That needn't be seen, and shouldn't be seen, as a threat to US objectives in the Middle East.
The year 2009 also saw the International Criminal Court (ICC) issue an arrest warrant for Omar Bashir, the Sudanese president. As soon as the warrant was issued, he responded by expelling aid agencies from Darfur. What's more important; that international law is respected or that conditions on the ground are improved?
We don't see those two things in opposition. There has been a false dichotomy between justice and peace in a case like Sudan, where if we go ahead and indict Bashir, then that's going to be unhelpful to the actual realisation of human rights.
I don't accept that. In other instances where heads of state indicted by the ICC or by other international bodies, like the [late Serbian president Slobodan] Milosevic case, or the Charles Taylor case, indictments were a way of stigmatising and putting a nail in the coffin of dictators. It's been very effective in other cases.
You should read the rest here/source
Note from OP: Hai ONTDP... what was the most compelling human right issue this year? What organization do you think was the most powerful in defending human rights? what is *one* issue you would like to see resolved in the next decade (and are you personally willing to commit to it)?
OPs own response--
Compelling: Human rights violations in Iran
Most powerful: One Million Signatures Campaign in Iran
Resolved in the next decade: Ditto. And yes.