The European Union policy advisor on Africa and former ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, said that it is wrong to claim that human rights are less important than economic development.
He contends that people who hold that view are those who are on the side of the oppressors rather than the oppressed. Writes Van Damme:
Those who claim #HumanRights are of a lower priority then economic development are generally speaking on the side of the oppressors rather than the oppressed; oppressed may have a different opinion.
Beyond ethical considerations, from an economic point of view, neglect of #HumanRights and marginalization/discrimination of social groups (women, minorities…) leads to suboptimal use of their economic potential.
Still on #HumanRights and economics, non-respect of #RuleOfLaw, corruption,… lead to judiciary unpredictability and deteriorating investment climate. Please see the most recent @Mo_IbrahimFdn reports on the strong correlation among all those variables.
On “Western-style” democracy: very paternalising and contemptuous of all those citizens registering, mobilising, patiently queuing and voting to claim they are not ripe for it.
Beyond the ethics, democracy also least inefficient way to hold leadership to account, on policy choices, on governance (incl corruption…) and to organise orderly successions/transitions. No “regime change” rhetoric but just “alternate”.
Coming now to economics. Each country has its specificities, linked to geography, history, the pattern of demographic transition and urbanisation, administrative tradition and culture…. but phases of accelerating economic growth always correlated to improving governance.
Improving economic governance through increased competition and economic liberalisation, corporate transparency and accountability, clarification of property rights, improvements in #Rule Of Law… i. e. improvements in “ease of doing business” and investment climate.
IF – a big IF – well-organised and competent State-administration, those reforms can be accompanied by public investment in well-managed supportive infrastructure, utilities…
But even when all these conditions are met, economic growth will run out of steam if economic liberalisation is not accompanied by political liberalisation. Back to square one.
Sustainable growth and development in a complex, modern society, requires freedom of choice, creativity, critical thinking, right of initiative.. i. e. respect for basic #HumanRights, #Rule Of Law and #democracy
Most countries in S-E Asia have reached that turning point.