"Human Rights and Politicized Human Rights: A Utilitarian Critique"

Full Article

Habibi, Don A. “Human Rights and Politicized Human Rights: A Utilitarian Critique.” Journal of Human Rights 6.1 (2007): 3-35.


The article provides a utilitarian analysis to argue that the leading organizations of the International Human Rights Movement have lost sight of their own professed values. Instead of functioning to check and balance the power of nation-states which formulate policies based on political and economic interests, the leadership of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Committee of the Red Cross follow the politicized United Nations. Their attention and resources have been diverted from where they are most needed and can do the most good. The problem is most evident in the disproportionate focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are serious problems of distributive justice, fairness, and equality of treatment, in that the obsessive, lopsided scrutiny placed on Israel is concomitant with the neglect of the far more horrific human rights violations in the Arab world and beyond. There is a tragic opportunity cost in how the major humanitarian and human rights organizations set their priorities and allocate their resources. The moral failure of politicization also damages the credibility of the human rights leadership, their organizations, and the cause of human rights…