Putting the foxes in charge of the hen house

IFEX points out that of the latest additions to the United Nations Human Rights Council, five countries have dismal human rights records: Angola, Libya, Malaysia, Thailand and Uganda.

New members elected to UN Human Rights Council include five human rights violators

What else would you expect? China and Cuba are on the committee as well. And we all know what a great track record these countries have in human rights.

In fact, Reporters Without Borders notes that the presence of China and Cuba on the committee for years has shown that the argument of putting less democratic, less human rights loving countries on the committee will help change them is a non-starter.

Why should reporters in the United States care? And even more, why should local news organizations care?

Outside of the fact that this is information that helps figure out how the world works — or doesn’t — there are local angles that can be looked at.

Not all immigrants to the United States — legal or otherwise — come for economic reasons. Some — many — come for political reasons. And running away for political reasons usually includes human rights issues.

So, how about the immigrant communities that are growing in every town and city in the United States? What are the stories from these immigrants about why they came to the States?

If a reporter goes a Mexican immigrant group in Texas or an Indian group in Fairfax County, Va., chances are the main story will be one of coming for economic reasons — jobs. (But there are a growing number of Mexicans fleeing the drug wars as well.) But how about the Somalian Ethiopian community in Minneapolis? Or the growing Venezuelan community in Northern Virginia? Or the Vietnamese community in Louisiana?

Those are just off the top of my head. A reporter with an ounce of curiosity might be able to find out more in his/her own community.

So there is a reason to look at the human rights situations in other countries. Violations elsewhere in the world often lead to larger immigration to the United States. It is the duty of LOCAL reporters to get the reasons why people are moving into LOCAL areas and affecting LOCAL businesses and LOCAL politics. But all that LOCAL! LOCAL! LOCAL! can’t be covered unless there is also an understanding of the rest of the world.

Here are some additional organizations to help understand the human rights situation in the world:


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Filed under Connections, International News Coverage, Story Ideas

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