The West’s Hypocrisy on Human Rights

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The international order often presents a troubling inconsistency when it comes to human rights. The United States and its Western allies, who frequently champion human rights principles, are accused of employing a double standard. This inconsistency is particularly evident in their contrasting approaches to Israel and India. While the US might occasionally express concern about Israel’s policies or India’s crackdown on dissent, such concerns are demonstrably outweighed by strategic interests of USA, which results in a system of “privileged standards” for favored allies.

This duplicity is particularly evident in the recent military aid package to Israel, which is worth US 18 billion $ and being given on the heels of a tepid US call for Israel to “revisit” its policies on the Gaza ceasefire. This begs the question: how can a nation facing accusations of human rights abuses be considered a deserving recipient of such a substantial military hardware windfall? This action exposes the hollowness of American pronouncements about human rights and its biased treatment towards its vassal state. Here, we see the US “running with the hare and hunting with the hounds” – condemning Israeli actions while simultaneously enabling them.

West maintains a deafening silence and appears to be unwilling to antagonize a strategic partner (India) in the Asia-Pacific region.

One need not look further than the recent spree of transnational killings, by Indian intelligence operations, acting with impunity across the globe to display the duplicity in theory and practice. It is important to remember here the Guardian’s exposé on 4th and 5th April 2024 by Hannah Ellis-Petersen, which detailed a systematic campaign of targeted killings by Indian intelligence tentacles on Pakistani soil. Despite this mountain of evidence, the West still maintains a deafening silence and appears to be unwilling to antagonize a strategic partner in the Asia-Pacific region.

Earlier, a 2023 leaked intelligence report published by The Intercept, revealed a pattern of extrajudicial killings on orders of Indian Government targeting political activists and dissidents residing abroad, primarily in Europe. Later on, in January 2024, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), presented before domestic and foreign media, excerpts from a dossier in an official presser, exposing India’s extrajudicial killings spree in Pakistan. Those killings, ordered by the highest echelons of Indian power have raised serious concerns about India’s commitment to the rule of law and its respect for democratic values.

Also Read: Rise in India’s Covert Operations on Foreign Soil

Ironically however, the West’s response to India’s unbated crimes has remained wanting and muted, at best. There have been no strong condemnations, no calls for investigations, and certainly no punitive actions. This senselessness stands in stark contrast to the outrage often directed towards nations which are deemed adversaries by the West. China, for instance, faces relentless criticism over its human rights record in Xinjiang, despite lack of conclusive evidence West silence on deliberate and systematic campaign of transnational killings by India is quite meaningful as well as questionable.

When a nation aligns with Western strategic interests, its human rights transgressions are downplayed or ignored altogether.

This disparity in treatment exposes the West’s realpolitik approach to human rights. When a nation aligns with Western strategic interests, its human rights transgressions are downplayed or ignored altogether. Conversely, even minor infractions by countries deemed rivals, are amplified and used to justify interventionist policies. The justifications offered for this inconsistency are as flimsy as they are transparent. India, it is argued, is a crucial counterweight to China’s growing influence in Asia. Israel, on the other hand, is seen as a vital strategic ally in the Middle East. These geopolitical calculations, however, come at a steep price – the erosion of the West’s moral authority and the emboldening of authoritarian regimes.

Despite a recent warming of relations with the West, India’s strategic posture can be best described as “playing both sides.” While it participates in the Quad, a forum of China’s rivals, namely US, Japan, and Australia to counter China’s influence, India remains deeply connected with, Russia and Brazil, through BRICS and SCO. This duplicity extends to the recent Ukraine crisis, where India refused to condemn the Russian invasion and even profited by buying discounted Russian oil. India’s “multi-alignment” strategy, as termed by India’s Foreign Minister Jaishankar, prioritizes economic gains and geopolitical leverage over a clear commitment to a particular bloc.

There are multiple reports that Indian people are being hired as mercenaries and they are fighting in Ukraine from the Russian side. Such a duplicitous stance makes India a questionable partner in the West’s efforts to contain an ascendant China. India wants the security benefits of aligning with the US but is unwilling to sever ties with other power centers, especially when such ties offer economic advantages. This restraint to take a firm stance undermines India’s credibility as a reliable strategic partner. US needs to re-evaluate its unwavering support to such an ally, which has a history of prioritizing its own interests over any strategic alliance interest.

Overlooking serious human rights abuses by countries like Israel and India and heavily criticizing other nation, the West is prioritizing strategic interests over genuine concerns. This “realpolitik” approach weakens the global human rights framework and erodes the West’s moral authority. To regain trust and build a more just world order, the West needs to ditch the double standards indiscriminately.

The opinions shared in this article reflect the author’s personal views and do not necessarily align with the institution’s official stance.

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