Hungary Takes One Giant Step Back From Democratic Path
Once viewed as one of the more democratic nations in Eastern Europe, on Monday Hungary adopted several changes to its constitution that place that view in doubt. Aide by a boycott from the opposition parties in the parliament, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right wing allies were able to pass changes that include additional restrictions on political advertisements and would fine homeless individuals for living on the streets.
The action drew quick and vocal condemnation.
“These amendments raise concerns with respect to the principle of the rule of law, EU law and Council of Europe standards,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a joint statement with the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland.
Hungarian constitutional law expert Gábor Halmai characterized the measures as a “systematic abolishment of the constitutional order,” while Hamburg-based European law expert Markus Kotzur calls the changes “highly problematic,” the German newspaper Der Spiegel reports.
South Caucasus Spring?
It may not rise to the level of the Arab Spring, but in the South Caucasus nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia there is a resurgence of the political unrest that marked the 1990s, according to Foreign Policy magazine.
Syrian Civil War Places UN Credibility In Question
More than 70,000 dead. More than 1 million refugees. Two years of bloodshed in the streets of cities and towns. The grim statistics tell Syria’s story and how the inadequacy of the international response has increased the United Nations credibility gap, says Joel Brinkley in World Affairs magazine.
Part of the problem, Brinkley argues, lies in the way the UN itself works. Responding to those who promote the notion of bringing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before the International Criminal Court, he notes that some of the worst violators of human rights are members of that very court.
“That’s the problem with using the UN to address human-rights problems. Every single state in the world, even the most reprehensible, is an equal member,” he argues and adds that “every nation that ignores those ideals still has an equal vote in the UN General Assembly. Of course a couple of them, China and Russia, are actually permanent members of the Security Council.”