Tobi Soniyi and Shola Oyeyipo
Professor Stephen Hopgood of the SOAS (formerly School of Oriental and African Studies) University of London has said that double standards and hypocrisy of the west undermine human rights globally.
Hopgood who delivered a lecture at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos on the topic, ‘Are We Seeing the End of Human Rights?’ noted that the decision of the United States of America to abdicate its roles in the international scene and the emergence of China on the scene raised new questions on the enforcement of human rights.
He noted that if the western world could stop applying double standards to human rights issues, it would have the legitimacy to insist that the rest of the world uphold their commitments to international human rights instruments.
He also spoke about the allegation that Nigerian military violated human rights while fighting Boko Haram in the north-eastern part of Nigeria.
He said: “The Nigerian population, presumably, want to be protected by the government, by the Nigerian military but they also want the military to be accountable to them because it is done in the name of the people of Nigeria.”
He said that if the military committed the same atrocities Boko Haram was accused of, then there was no point sending the military against the insurgents. This, he said, explained why the people expected a higher degree of accountability from the military.
Some of the participants at the lecture accused the western world of imposing its ideas on the rest of the world as human rights.
They therefore, called for a redefinition of what constituted human rights.
A human right activist, Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, said that human rights as defined by the west did not sit well with Africa. This, she argued, made enforcement difficult.
She said that while the world might not be seeing the end of human rights, there was a need to redefine rights bearing in mind the peculiarity of every part of the world.
Also speaking, the Director of the Centre for African Studies at SOAS, Prof. Mashood Baderin, said that the universality of human rights was not in doubt.
According to him, the substance of human rights remained the same worldwide. The issue, he argued, had to do with the limitation and scope of human rights.