OPINION: Summit for Democracy, a mockery of human rights

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The United States held another “Summit for Democracy” in late March. In this modern age of information, the US insists on fabricating its power through such a summit by making a mockery of democracy, while the hegemonic rhetoric throughout its government’s history is not hidden.

The purpose of democracy should be sound governance for social progress and people’s better livelihood. Yet the US-trumpeted democracy has failed in both fields, overseas and at home.

Just 20 years ago, the US was claiming to let democracy reign while illegally invading Iraq and toppling the government of Saddam Hussein, only to leave the country in ruins. It waved similar slogans in Libya, Egypt and other Arab countries, only to make the lives of people there more difficult.

So far, US presidential administrations haven’t had to bear the consequences of such examples of failed democracy. Instead, some US officials continue to boast of their success in throwing out other countries’ legitimate governments.

Moreover, the US military has used drone strikes in the name of targeting suspected terrorists in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. These strikes have resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians and violated international law.

Coming to the human rights issue, photos were released in 2004 showing US military personnel torturing and abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The abuse included sexual assault, humiliation and physical torture. The US’ Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba has held detainees without trial or due process for extended periods, sometimes for years.

The US has also been fueling war by providing military support to pro-West Ukraine.

Meanwhile, US domestic politics are dramatically weakening. Criticism of and challenges to the US democratic system are unavoidable. The administration of US President Joe Biden gathered international actors at the recent summit with diverse topics including democracy as it relates to technology and business, anti-corruption policies and the Ukraine conflict.

Although the summit highlighted business, democracy and economic growth, the US has imposed sanctions on various countries over the years, and many of these countries are considered weaker economies. These sanctions can have a significant impact on the affected countries, their people and their economies.

One of the primary understandings of US sanctions is that they can be illegal under international law, particularly when they are imposed unilaterally and without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. These sanctions can violate a country’s sovereignty and can cause significant harm to innocent civilians, such as through the denial of access to essential goods and services like food, medicine and clean water. These actions can have significant negative consequences for economies.

It is ironic that the summit talked about stabilizing economies, but in practice the US is destabilizing international economies.

Voter suppression is another vital issue, with some areas in the US making it more difficult for certain groups of people to vote, such as through voter ID laws or by reducing the number of polling places. The major US parties are accusing each other of practices that disproportionately affect marginalized communities and undermine the fairness of elections. In addition, gerrymandering in US politics, a process of manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts to favor a particular political party or group, can lead to unequal representation and an unfair advantage for certain groups.

Furthermore, there are concerns that the role of money in US politics can skew the political process in favor of wealthy individuals and corporations, leading to a lack of accountability and responsiveness to the needs of everyday citizens.

Many people believe that the increasingly partisan nature of US politics has led to a lack of cooperation and compromise between political parties, making it difficult to pass legislation that reflects the will of the people and exhibiting poor governance. In addition, certain interest groups, such as the National Rifle Association, wield outsized influence.

The US should clean its own house regarding politics, instead of making a mockery of democracy, as it has done in its leadership history.

The author is executive director of the Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future, Islamabad. The views do not necessarily reflect those of MEZIESBLOG

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