Yash Ghai

There is the danger of “double standards” in a dual sense; the standards or human rights practices of the “donor” may be little better than that of the recipient, and the donor may pick and choose States for conditionalities, further politicising the practice of conditionality. The United States, “the mother of all conditionors”, is particularly vulnerable to these temptations; its record of connivance in the massive violations of the rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, and its active engagement in the destabilisation of democratic orders in many parts of the Third World being particularly despicable. Political conditionalities (for example, regarding good governance) are particularly offensive when the “donor” engages in activities in the recipient country which are inconsistent with the conditionalities (forcing the recipient into a kind of schizophrenia}-a ready example (of widespread practice of Western States and corporations) is the deal made by the United Kingdom Government for the financing of a dam in Malaysia if Malaysia would purchase arms from the United Kingdom (not only is this corruption but also forcing the purchase of arms runs counter to the policy of the West to penalise such purchases). Conditionality may threaten consistency in another sense; a State may decide that its national interests no longer lie in maintaining conditionality, and may abandon it after having initiated it (as with the recent United States decision on the Most Favoured Nation status for Chna). A country’s foreign policy is detennined by many considerations, largely of its own self-interest, and therefore human rights are unlikely to be an important or consistent factor. A change of policy may raise a particular moral problem; an important casualty of this change may well be human rights activists in the “recipient” country who have staked a great deal (personally and otherwise) on continued support from abroad.

One thought on “Yash Ghai

  1. shinichi Post author

    Human Rights and Governance: The Asia Debate

    by Yash Ghai
    January 2000
    Asia Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law 1(1):9-52


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