Too often the term "human rights" has been misused or cheapened. Take the UN Human Rights Council, which has become a standing joke because so many of its 47 member countries kill or torture their opponents. Indeed, the latest candidate for membership put up by Latin America is Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, which in February refused to vote for a UN resolution criticizing Syria's brutal killing of civilians and continues to ship oil to the Assad regime.
The Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual event organized by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, is rehabilitating the concept that people of good will can promote basic rights in all nations at all times without an overlay of ideology or hypocrisy. Indeed, at the meeting I attended last May, there was no desire to blame racism or gender discrimination on the U.S. or other Western nations.