Thursday, 20 December 2007

On Human Rights

This is a foreword by Bakar Berekashvili writtent for December Issue of A Different View, IAPSS Academic Magazine.

Dear Friends,

I am writing you this letter from Georgia, from my native country where I was born in 1983 while Georgia was a part of USSR. By that time, doctrine of human rights in Soviet Union was considered as a negative European idea and political discourse giving nothing to the nations. Then Soviet Union collapsed and Georgia gained independence. But human rights still were not basic part of Georgian political agenda due to authoritarian-nationalist government which came into power in Georgia after dismantle of Soviet Union and seriosly damaged country’s reputation in international arena. Then in early 1992 this nationalistic regime was brought down as well, but still no progress for Georgia in terms of human rights protection just because of that new president Eduard Shevardnadze who was a former communist leader did not care of human rights and established hybrid regime in Georgia. Then like their incumbents Shevardnadze’s government was removed and by peaceful means, particularly by the Rose Revolution of 2003 and opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili became country’s president in 2004.
On 7 November of 2007, huge peaceful demonstration was organized in Tbilisi by which people protested Saakashvili’s political regime and accused Georgian president in abusing of human rights and democratic principles in Georgia. So, still here we see again that even in case of Saakashvili who enjoys of having good international reputation, Georgia could not achieve to be formed as a democratic country. Saakashvili responded protestors with dispersal of rally and by announcing state of emergency which was canceled few days later. He also announced conduction of early presidential elections in January of 2008 and so few days ago he resigned. Georgians intend to vote in January, some shall vote for Saakashvili and some shall vote for opposition, but they shall vote with new hope, with the hope for better Georgia, but also there are significant part of Georgian society who gradually lose this hope. And this is a drama of Georgian democracy.
It turned out that this is extremely difficult for Georgia to preserve human rights and democratic principles and to take succeesful steps for democratic transformation. I have already noted above that Georgian governments of any period could not manage establishment of truly democratic regime in the country. But what I always urge to my friends and distinguished colleagues is that this is not only political authority in Georgia who makes problems for human rights and democracy in Georgia, but also this is a Georgian society who lives with double standards. Point is that on the one hand Georgian society wants to live in democratic country where protection of human rights will be guaranteed, but on the other hand this is exactly Georgian society who has nationalistic nature of thinking and snobbish character as well which are in confrontation with the protection of human rights and human dignity. However, I do not want to be a pessimist and I should say that I see progressive groups in Georgian society, not very strong and capable in decision making process of Georgia but I see them and they make me to think about possible perfect democratic future of Georgia.
Georgia is not the only country in this diverse world that has troubles with human rights protection. Just observe other countries of contemporary humanity and one would easily discover worse situations in the field of human rights protection. Let’s think about post-soviet space where we can see Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan and other countries where political authorities still consider the idea of human rights protection in soviet context and they achieved to form conformist and scared society who can not think about protection of human rights even in their inner mental world. Russia, for instance, is a clear example how authority managed to take control over the minds of individuals who acknowledge the only dominant discourse offered by the government.
The enlightenment era played crucial and decisive role in emergence of contemporary idea of human rights which is so much important and simultaneously disrespected in modern world. The ideas and conceptions developed by Lock and Kant provided clear determination of what individual rights are and why human rights are necessary for humanity. Then other philosophers of next centuries gave us more explanations in which conditions human rights are protected and how people and governments should deal with human rights protection. So, what is called for society where human rights protection is guaranteed? Karl Popper, 20th century Austrian-born British philosopher suggests that this is an open society who can provide strong basis and environment for protection of human rights and individual liberties. And the open society is the most important enemy of any totalitarian and dictatorial regimes of our world, because the open society is an idea and concept developed by 19th century French philosopher Henri Bergson who argued that within open society political authority is trasparent and tolerant and according to Popper open society itself is an enemy of closed society where the idea of human rights protection is strongly neglected by the government. Democratic countries have open societies and totalitarian countries have closed societies and where the closed space is discovered there can be also definitely discovered darkness.
On 10th December the world celebrates Human Rights Day because exaclty on 10 December of 1948 United Nations General Assembly adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights and we decided to dedicate this issue of A Different View to Human Rights. With this issue we would like to explain how we see human rights today and to identify who respects true ideals of human rights and fundamental liberties in this world. This issue of A Different View may serve as a small but a very smart contribution for promoting and defending human rights worldwide. This is very important that the work of IAPSS has few dimensions and among them is to support protection of human rights and democratic values and for this purpose since its establishment, IAPSS carried out numerous activities focusing to promotion of human rights and democracy, and this issue of ADV is just continuation of IAPSS work in promoting basic principles of human rights, democracy and civil society.
I am really very happy to present before you this December issue of ADV and this became possible with existing of strong, motivated and common spirit within editorial board of ADV. I would like to say many thanks for everyone who took part in preparing of this issue of ADV. Special thanks for Zia Hosszu, Editor-in-chief of ADV and brilliant intellectual who did excellent job in preparing of December issue. I would like also to say many thanks for Irma Qehajaj, Co-Editor of ADV for her contribution in promoting of magazine. I am very thankful and especially grateful for Gábor Beregszászi, Michael Teodoro G. Ting Jr., Nikolett Sebestyén, Zsanett Papp and Kamilla Németh for their excellent articles on the topic of the month.
Finally, I wish to ask our intellectual readers to provide us with their very valuable comments, remarks, and suggestions. We are always more than happy to hear about your innovative ideas for our magazine and also to accept your articles for the next issues of ADV which will be also very interesting and attractive for all of us.