Ambassador George Moose Discusses Human Rights and the International Order in Rio de Janeiro

On September 15 and 16, 2014, Ambassador George Moose, Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Institute of Peace and Adjunct Professor of Practice and Lecturer at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, participated in a two-day speaker program in Rio de Janeiro on the theme “Human Rights and the International Order.”

Ambassador Moose served for over 35 years in the Department of State, having held appointments as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Benin (1983-1986) and to the Republic of Senegal (1988-1991).  He was also U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations Security Council (1991-1992), Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1993-1997), and U.S. Permanent Representative to the European Office of the United Nations in Geneva (1998-2001).

The program started with lectures at the Federal Fluminense University’s Institute of Strategic Studies (INEST/UFF), and at the Superior War College (ESG), both held on September 15.  At the two venues, Ambassador Moose discussed the role of emerging countries in the international promotion of human rights.  On the following day, he delivered the keynote address of the seminar “Human Rights and the International Order,” which was developed by the U.S. Consulate General in partnership with the Rio de Janeiro Regional Federal Court (TRF2). Rio Consul General John Creamer gave opening remarks at the seminar and later hosted a lunch in honor of Ambassador Moose with the speakers and organizers.  Finally, Ambassador Moose delivered keynote remarks at the seminar “Rising Powers and Intervention:  Contested Norms and Shifts in Global Order,” developed by the Institute of International Relations of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (IRI/PUC-Rio).  For this last program activity, Ambassador Moose chose to speak about “Emerging Powers and R2P:  From Words to Action.”  Throughout the program in Rio, Ambassador Moose addressed large and diversified audiences totaling 350 people. These included one Member of the Brazilian House of Representatives, general officers and senior military officers, federal and state judges, diplomats, academics, researchers, human rights activists, NGO leaders, journalists, and professors, graduate and undergraduate students of law, international relations, strategic studies and defense.

In his remarks, Ambassador Moose stressed that the DEPs (“Democratic Emerging Powers,” an acronym that includes India, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil) have so far displayed an ambivalent and inconsistent performance on human rights in the international sphere.  According to him, the DEPs do not differ from other states in facing constraints in playing a more assertive role with respect to the global human rights agenda.  Despite such constraints, there would be room for the DEPs to expand their influence and exert a significant impact on the evolution of global human rights norms and institutions, Ambassador Moose argued.  He suggested five areas where the DEPs could strengthen the international human rights order in alignment with their national policies, principles and values, namely:  (a) discrediting the argument that the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are not universal;  (b) engaging in the international debate surrounding civil and political rights on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights on the other;  (c) defending the role of civil society organizations and human rights defenders;  (d) strengthening the role and independence of the UN Human Rights Council’s special procedures and rapporteurs;  and (e) supporting and increasing the budgets of the UN Human Rights Council and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.