Thursday, December 20, 2007

Torture versus international law: a highly interesting interview with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

In the US of A it is often considered "de bon ton" to trash the United Nations and all the other international institutions which were created after World War II to replace the rule of the jungle with the rule of law in international affairs. Ignorant inbred rednecks hate the UN because they fear that the "Black Helicopters" will invade their villages, libertarians hate the UN because they hate anything 'government' and they assume (mistakenly) that the UN is, or tries to be, a 'world government', conservatives hate the UN because it tells them that they cannot bomb whom they want without a UNSC authorization and the democrats hate the UN simply because they think that hating the UN makes them look more 'patriotic'. Hardly anyone is aware of the fact that UN is much bigger and much more diverse that just the UNSC.

George Kenney, a former State Department diplomat who resigned over the US policies the the Balkans, has a very interesting blog called "Electric Politics" which features interesting articles, discussions and an extremely well designed weekly interview available for podcast and download. On November 16th of this year, George Kenny interviewed Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. The interview is available here for download.

I urge everybody to listen to this most interesting conversation, in particular all my readers in the USA, as it touches on many crucial issues including the importance, nature and relevance of the international legal instruments on such issues like torture, and on what kind of socio-cultural evolution is taking place in Europe and the rest of the world while the USA is *regressing* on pretty much all issues of internationally agreed conventions, practices and policies. Nothing illustrates this better than the issues of torture and secret detention.

Check out all the other podcasts available on George Kenny's website. Almost all of them are extremely interesting.