Responses to Nicole and Catherine

Nicole Maylor:

Like in my previous post about the work of the Stable Seas project I am very interested in the use of the word “terrorism” in the context of maritime violence/crime. One thing that stands out to me, especially when you use the example of Nelson Mandela, is the racial/racist dimension of using the terrorist label. Other than that the proceeds of these crimes may go to “terrorist organizations” the activities of pirates sound more like organized crime. What is the line between organized crime and terrorism? Is it the case that we in the West are very quick to label someone a terrorist when they are Muslim and when the victims are white Westerners?

Catherine Labasi-Sammartino:

I was struck by the following statement in your post: “the use of the law as not only a tool to solve a single fact pattern but as a tool with the potential to create population shifts and improve health conditions on a national scale”. As I have explained, I am critical of international human rights law and the way you described the use of law is one of the reasons why. I am wary of the imposition of legal rules universally – exactly because it does not take into account the specifics of the cultural/social/political/economic context. For example, it is inappropriate to hold countries with vastly different levels of wealth to the same standards of health. This is something I confront in the area of disability rights because of how expensive it is to provide the medical interventions or social supports for people with disabilities to live independently and with dignity. Further, accessibility in the built environment is hard enough for a wealthy country like Canada. It would be nearly impossible to hold every country to the same standard.

Your post also made me think about the way in which international human rights standards/norms are unidirectional. Many of the aspects of the “right to health” are predicated on a country’s level of wealth. Yet I can think of aspects of Western practices that would be unacceptable to other countries. For example, we in the West have medicalized and segregated old age. We place our family members in long term care facilities because we do not value care work that is done within the family, so for many it would be financially catastrophic for an otherwise employable adult to stay home to care for an elderly (or disabled) family member. Further, we pretend that we will be young and able-bodied forever so when we learn of abuse or neglect in nursing homes (like in Quebec where seniors are only given one shower a week) we fail to allocate more money to improve living conditions. Perhaps those involved in international human rights law ought to include the values and practices from outside the West. Like, for example, allowing seniors to age in place with the assistant of family members or other forms of home care.

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