Second release of secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement documentsOn 13 November 2013 WikiLeaks released the draft text of the crucial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Intellectual Property chapter during the lead-up to a TPP chief negotiators’ meeting in Salt Lake City on 19-24 November 2013. Today, 9 December 2013, WikiLeaks has released two more secret TPP documents that show the state of negotiations as the twelve TPP countries began supposedly final negotiations at a trade ministers’ meeting in Singapore this week.
One document describes deep divisions between the United States and other nations, and "great pressure" being exerted by the US negotiators to move other nations to their position. The other document lists, country-by-country, the many areas of disagreement remaining. It covers intellectual property and thirteen other chapters of the draft agreement. This suggests that the TPP negotiations can only be concluded if the Asia-Pacific countries back down on key national interest issues, otherwise the treaty will fail altogether.
Dispatches: Putin’s Twisted Take on Tradition
In an oblique reference to progress in other countries toward ending discrimination against LGBT people, Putin said: ‘This destruction of traditional values from above not only entails negative consequences for society, but is also inherently anti-democratic because it is based on an abstract notion and runs counter to the will of the majority of people.
Putin’s comments were likely intended to justify the law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to minors in Russia – a pernicious piece of legislation that has been accompanied by a sharp increase in homophobic violence.
Internationally, Russia is using traditional values as a way of repositioning itself on the world stage. In 2012, Russia led the international charge through a “traditional values” resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council. This was an attempt to assert a static and narrow view of culture and tradition. It also seeks to make human rights the preserve of some and not others – definitely not for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The Kremlin’s crackdown has tightened the screws on society but not filled the ideological void left by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Domestically, “traditional values” is Putin’s way of filling that void and consolidating a conservative support base. What exactly does he mean by “traditional values?” A glance at what is happening in Russia is illuminating.
It means intimidating non-government organizations, labeling them “foreign agents” and by implication enemies of the state. It means clamping down on political opposition. It means stifling a free press. And it means riding roughshod over the rights of migrants for political ends. Members of the LGBT community in Russia have become the latest targets of violence, also directed against migrants and certain ethnic minorities.
“The will of the majority” is language often used to repress and persecute marginal and vulnerable minorities. Yet a core purpose of human rights is to protect individuals from the tyranny of the majority.
Next time Putin attempts to dress up discrimination in the respectable cloak of “traditional values” take a look at what is happening in Russia. Putin is giving “traditional values” a very bad name indeed.