Make Tyranny History

Nick Cohen in the Observer looks at the issue of human rights and poverty.

‘Sir,’ wrote Mr HW Scott of Hemel Hempstead to the editor of the Daily Telegraph last week, ‘Bob Geldof hopes to raise an army of a million protesters against world poverty. Instead of sending them to Scotland to lobby the G8, he would do better if he divided his troops into groups of, say, 50,000, and sent them to protest repeatedly in front of the London embassies of the countries everyone knows to be the worst offenders in failing to reduce poverty in their own countries.’

An argument can be true even if it is made in the Telegraph, and no one can deny that the regimes which preside over the African disaster will get off lightly in the protests against the G8 summit. If the Make Poverty History manifesto were implemented, the Common Agricultural Policy would be scrapped; the World Bank and International Monetary Fund would no longer be able to force weak countries to open their markets before they were ready for free trade; debt which can never be repaid would be cancelled and the rich world would provide more aid for health services and education.

It’s an admirable programme, but the reader can be forgiven for believing that Africa has no dictators and its affairs are directed by rich, white men. Corruption doesn’t feature in the manifesto and human rights are mentioned in passing just once, and then only in a swipe at world trade rules rather than actual tyrants and torturers.

The rest is here

Also in the Observer read Michela Wrong on Africa.