Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993, has investigated human rights abuses around the globe, with special expertise on issues of justice and accountability for atrocities committed[…]
Better communication gives us a greater global perspective and a greater ability to empathize with those in danger.
I think one thing that you could say the world is doing right today is that there is a more global perspective. People are, because of the communications revolution, better able to understand and potentially identify with people on the other side of the world. Certainly that process of identification has been absolutely key to the human rights movement. You know if you go back 100 years, the only thing you could have a human rights movement about were great big trends. You know you could talk about, you know, slavery or colonialism – some of the . . . the big kind of abuses that didn’t really change day to day, and therefore you could really build a movement about. But the idea of generating pressure to stop this particular war or that atrocity was impossible because you wouldn’t even know about it until it was too late. Today, because of communication, there is this greater capacity to . . . to see the person on the other side of the world both literally, but I think more importantly to figuratively identify with that person. And I do think that there is a growing globalization spirit which we are doing right. There’s a long way to go. Still many Americans don’t even have a passport. They’ve never traveled abroad. It’s a big country, and there’s often a feeling that, you know, why do you need anybody else? You can travel for 1,000 miles and still only find Americans. But that’s beginning to change, and I think that’s for the best because it will make America a better global citizen; perhaps a more humble citizen, but one that is more willing to live according to the values that it’s preached for many years.
Recorded on: 8/14/07