DGermany plays football against countries that dismember opponents of the regime, cruelly abuse girls and lock ethnic groups in concentration camps. It recently competed with Russia in the finals of the European Championship, when Putin’s regime had already annexed Crimea, liquidated journalists, irradiated critics in England and shot them in the back in Berlin’s Tiergarten. But only in the game against Hungary did the morally sour part of the country bathe in rainbow colors. Because the country is a member of the EU? Because Orbán’s regime is the worst? Because of strong lobby pressure? Or isn’t that more of an expression of helplessness?
Yes, we have to talk – with (almost) everyone. What could illustrate this better than the UN environmental summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which has just ended? It took place in a country that has a dismal human rights record – but as far as can be seen, there was no excuse for anyone not to attend the huge conference. Of course, there were also activists. But when it comes to the global climate in the isolated seaside resort of a torture state, the rights of the tortured recede into the background.
All are formally the same
Ironically, more is now being demanded of FIFA, which is certainly notoriously corrupt, than of the supposedly human-rights-oriented Western community of states. The footballers should have more courage than any local politician. The indeed death-defying Iran internationals are hailed as role models from afar – but they too want to play. And the World Football Association sets the rules.
All global organizations live from the fact that they are by no means blind to human rights violations, but that they are initially open to all states, regardless of their internal constitution. First and foremost the United Nations itself. Almost all states are members, and that’s an advantage.
Of course, it seems strange that a world organization that is committed to peace, human rights and self-determination should offer a forum to all sorts of regimes. This is taken to the extreme in the UN Security Council, whose permanent members impressively reflect the situation immediately after the end of the Second World War, but which is not an assembly of the largest democracies because of the membership of Russia and China. China subjugates the Uyghurs, shows no mercy to opponents of the regime and constantly threatens Taiwan with war. And Russia is waging a war the likes of which have not been seen in Europe since the Second World War in terms of its goals and its contempt for human beings.
So although the UN Charter wanted to free mankind from the scourge of war, two traditionally unjust states sit permanently on the UN body whose resolutions are binding and which Germany, too, has time and again made the bastion of legitimate foreign policy action.
What to do? Throw out Russia without further ado, as some think? Well, the United Nations is not an allotment association. Without the permanent members there can be no reform. Of course, one could argue that the basis of the UN, or at least the Security Council, has been lost, so to speak. Nobody can prevent the democracies of this world from leaving this organization and founding their own.
So how about an association of democracies? Is the European Union such a club? The rule of law proceedings against Poland and Hungary show that the flawless rule of law is not a matter of course in the EU either. It is always a joint struggle, based on agreed standards.
forums of exchange
What remains important is that there are common forums for exchange – the United Nations continues to be that. Even with the rightly ostracized Russia, people talk on different channels. International sports competitions are also there for exchange. They steer the eye beyond all propaganda of the host to his dark side.
The international community is definitely changing in the direction of democracy and human rights. State sovereignty is no longer an absolute shield. But there is no schoolmaster. The increased international dependency and one’s own behavior make it difficult to act as a moral authority. The footballers should refuse despots before whom politics and business crouch.
“One love” is not of the same importance everywhere, “One Gas” is more so. Nobody has to put up with everything. But those who are only perceived as bigoted are not serving human rights.
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