Special Rapporteur on Torture’s Report to UN General Assembly Indicts Human Self-Interest | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Special Rapporteur on Torture’s Report to UN General Assembly Indicts Human Self-Interest

In his report to the General Assembly of the UN on October 15, Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer delivered an incisive and damning indictment of the human propensity for self-deception and denial, citing these attributes as contributing to the prevalence of torture. He discussed how these innate propensities paved the way for denial that torture was taking place and for compartmentalization of one’s own participation in hurting other people. While applauding the normative structure of society and law in terms of “official” prohibitions against torture, Melzer unequivocally stated that these structures were not sufficient in stopping torture, given the human tendency towards self-interest and self-protection, and discussed how this tendency rears up in fear-based societies.

Melzer’s report stated:

The root cause of the systemic governance failure is not a lack of expertise, resources or normative consensus, nor generalized malicious intent, but lies in generic biopsychosocial factors that have shaped human decision-making throughout history, irrespective of national, cultural, religious or other distinctive influences. (Report A/75/179 – E – A/75/179)

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