America May Need International InterventionBreaking News
tags: democracy, United Nations
The rightful president of Belarus, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, appeared via video last month before the United Nations Human Rights Council. Her country’s August election, she declared, had been “stolen.”
Despite objections from a representative of the Belarusian government, who said she had no right to address the body, Ms. Tikhanovskaya implored the United Nations to act. “Standing up for democratic principles and human rights is not interfering in internal affairs,” she insisted, “it is a universal question of human dignity.”
No one knows how Donald Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis will affect his presidential campaign, but before falling ill, he repeatedly suggested that he won’t accept the results of the election, should he lose. In that case, Joe Biden should follow Ms. Tikhanovskaya’s example and appeal to the world for help.
For many Americans — raised to see the United States as the natural leader of the “free world” — it may be hard to imagine requesting foreign intervention against tyranny in our own land. But as historians like Gerald Horne and Carol Anderson have detailed, there’s a long history of Black Americans doing exactly that.
From 1845 to 1847, Frederick Douglass delivered more than 180 speeches imploring British audiences to intervene against American slavery. After World War I, when President Woodrow Wilson unveiled the Fourteen Points that he hoped would structure the postwar world, the National Equal Rights League, led by William Trotter and Ida Wells-Barnett, asked the Paris Peace Conference to adopt a 15th: The “elimination of civil, political and judicial distinctions based on race or color in all nations.”
After World War II, the sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois edited a 94-page pamphlet that the N.A.A.C.P. presented to every ambassador to the new United Nations. “Peoples of the world,” it declared, “we American Negroes appeal to you; our treatment in America is not merely an internal question of the United States. It is a basic problem of humanity; of democracy.”