Louise Arbour: Second Thoughts

The former Supreme Court judge in conversation with Doug Saunders, in The Globe and Mail, May 28:

Louise ArbourThere is a basic flaw in the international effort to simultaneously pursue justice, peace and human rights. The initiation and unfolding of criminal prosecutions can complicate, if not impede, peace processes. Conversely, the negotiation of a lasting peace often requires a delaying, or forgiving, of justice. And by attempting to impose fully formed notions of equal rights on countries that have yet to develop them internally, Western countries appear to be bullies, undermining their efforts on the other two fronts.

The way out of this, she says, is to stop trying to impose everything at once and opt for a more humble, “micro” approach: a quiet, mediating role in fixing individual wrongs.

What I’m trying to promote, maybe as a way out of this, is the idea of a kind of political empathy as a strategic advantage. Not as a sentimental, do-gooder virtue. But something that is sustained and has a capacity to genuinely try to understand what an issue looks like from an opponent’s or from another party’s point of view – a blueprint for understanding before you act, as opposed to rushing into things.


3 responses to “Louise Arbour: Second Thoughts

  1. Yes. Trying to impose `democracy’ by force is an oxymoron. People have to treasure democracy. They must slowly develop an appreciation of the benefits of democratic processes.

  2. Jan Krouzil

    It sounds like a call for Immanuel Kant’s ‘perpetual peace’ to be generated from ‘the bottom up’.

  3. Elisabeth Ecker

    Somebody should explain to George Soros that democracy can not superimposed on a country.