The Practice of Naming and Shaming

The practice of naming and shaming has relatively little effect because it rests on multiple fallacies:  first, that the party doing the naming has nothing to be ashamed of and possesses moral authority to shame the other; second, that the impugned party is generally open to criticism; third, that the target of the naming and shaming acknowledges the legitimacy of the namer to act as judge. Experience shows that the namer frequently has a closet full of skeletons and that therefore the target of the naming and shaming has no inclination to bow to the namer’s pretense to moral superiority or justification to hurl the first stone at the adulteress. Instead of raising fingers and pointing at others, it would be better if those States and ngo’s who claim moral superiority would instead consider offering advisory services and technical assistance so as to enable impugned States to improve their human rights practices and infrastructures.
What we urgently need is good faith, more mirrors of self-criticism, more focus on root causes and prevention, greater readiness to dialogue without preconditions, patience and perseverance — and much less eagerness to verbally condemn or judicially punish — above all, we need more compassion toward the victims and a commitment to redress the wrongs in international solidarity.
The all-too-frequent instrumentalization of human rights for political purposes and the abuse of the concept of human rights as a selective weapon against others demonstrates how little politicians and media care for the essence of human dignity — which entails respect for the other person’s identity, diversity and his/her right to hold different opinions. We need neutral brokers, not polemics nor rhetoric with the pervasive geopolitical after-taste. We need intellectual honesty — not international law à la carte.

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