We are seeing today the emergence worldwide, of an environment of intolerance, bigotry and outright repression. This environment is being created by extremist political parties and their leaders who deliberately target the weak, the marginalized and the excluded. Demagogues, exploiting genuine economic and social grievances, are resorting to an extreme nationalist rhetoric and the vilification of the “other”. In many parts of the world, the atmosphere is chillingly reminiscent of the fascism of the 1930s.
The effects of this phenomenon on the global human rights situation are deeply worrying. Migrants and asylum seekers are being deliberately targeted and denied their rights that exist under widely accepted human rights instruments.
Minorities are ostracized, xenophobia is encouraged and communities of different faiths are subjected to harassment and outright persecution.
How have we come to this pass? Many explanations have been put forward.
Deepening economic inequalities, social dislocation, demographic changes, and an inability of political institutions to meaningfully address concerns of anxious electorates have all played a role. But a critical factor that has contributed to this situation is the unwillingness of international institutions to clearly and unequivocally speak out against demagogues, and firmly uphold human rights norms.
In our own region, we are watching with extreme concern the drift of our eastern neighbor towards a political order marked by populism, extremism, and rank communalism. The minorities are living in a state of fear. Their beliefs, their values, their places of worship and their physical selves are all under attack. An extreme narrow nationalism aligned with the belief systems of one community is being deliberately foisted on the others. Dissent is met with intimidation and even with outright force. Human rights are the first casualty.
The repression in Jammu and Kashmir is the most reprehensible manifestation of the flouting of human rights and the unleashing of violence by an increasingly communal and an extremist state.
If we are to counter this descent of many regions of the world towards intolerance, extremism and violence, then we the international human rights community will have to hold to account the demagogues and their political parties whose pronouncements and actions have created these grave conditions.
I thank you Mr. President.