2009 Humanity's Shame Top 10: Taking nominations now!

Comments are closed on this post, and the nominations are included in the poll.
Cast your vote on this post. The results are out - see this post.

Imagine we have an official mission from outaspace. As they get out of their spacecraft the leaders of our earth welcome them. For two months, the aliens will tour around the world, at their free will. Observing, asking, questioning,...

What according to you would be the things we -as a human race-, we -humanity as a whole- would be ashamed of? Things we would be unable to explain, to justify? Things we would have to bow our head with shame?

In this post, I had a go at MSF's top 10 humanitarian crisis highlights for 2009. So now is the time to prove WE can do better:

Let's make a list, our very own Top 10, our "2009 Humanity's Shame Top 10": things "we" -humanity as whole- should be ashamed of. What shameful 2009 event should we highlight, so we can improve in 2010?

Here is how we will do this:
  1. I will take nominations for the "Shame List", as comments to this post. Deadline December 24th midnight EU time. So start posting your comments on this post NOW. The nominations should concern an event that happened, or peaked, or had a significant humanitarian impact in 2009.
  2. On Dec 26th, I will put out a post with a poll with all nominees on the top 10 "Shame List". Then you can vote for those which you think we should be the most ashamed of until Dec 31st midnight.
  3. On Jan 2nd, I will publish the top 10 with a summary of each "Shame".

To kick off the list, here are the "Shames" I have collected so far:
  1. DRC: shame on us, on the international community to ignore the violence against civilians, mostly women and children, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Shame on the UN in its inability to do anything significant about it.
  2. Sudan: shame on us, the international community in failing to execute the international arrest warrant for the Sudanese President, on account of genocide and crimes against humanity, allowing him to continue his government's genocide in Darfur and arming fractions in South Sudan, preparing for a new war.
  3. Copenhagen: shame on our political leaders to come up with a significant agreement during the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.
  4. Somalia: shame on us, on the international community to stop the politicization of the civil war supported by the US through its proxy Ethiopia, and supported by some Arab states through their proxy Eritrea. Shame on the donor community in its failure to provide sufficient aid to sustain the support of the feeding centers and refugee camps.
  5. Zimbabwe: shame on us, the international community in failing to pressure Zimbabwe's government to provide sufficient social security, social safety nets and proper social welfare to its citizens, turning what once was the breadbasket of Subsaharan Africa into a well of hunger.
  6. Afghanistan: shame on us, the international community, and the UN, in underestimating the level of corruption during the elections, trying to cover it up while supporting Karzai, ignoring all reports of large scale fraud.
  7. Pakistan: shame on the Pakistani government into armed interventions in the Swat province, plunging the country into chaos, riddled with suicide attacks, displacing over 2 million people, with no hope of a longer term peace settlement. Shame of on the US government in bribing the Pakistan's ruling elite to take up arms
  8. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq: shame on the US for continuing the short sighted armed interventions, plunging any country they touch, into chaos.
  9. Sri Lanka: shame on us, the international community in failing to highlight the crimes against humanity and genocide the Sri Lankan government covered up during the last weeks of their civil war. Shame on the Lanka government in trying to exterminate the Tamil population as a whole, locking up all civilians in camps which are rated as 'inhumane'.
  10. H1N1: shame on WHO, for their inability to correctly estimate, leave alone forecast, the impact of H1N1 (not sure about this one. If you agree/disagree, leave a comment)
  11. Palestine: shame on Hamas and the Israeli government in equally ignoring the rights of the civilian population during the recent Gaza conflict.
  12. Guinee: shame on the Guinean government in violently suppressing protests through whatever means, including widespread rape.
  13. World hunger record: shame on all of us allowing a record of 1 billion people to go hungry, while the world is producing sufficient food.
  14. Seed and GMO market manipulation: shame on Monsanto and Cargill for monopolizing the seed market, using the US government to introduce GMO-food and seeds into developing countries. Shame on Monsanto for singlehandedly causing the autumn corn harvest in South Africa to fail.
So add your suggestions as a comment to this post. Nominations end Dec 24th midnight!

Picture courtesy David Gray/Reuters.


Anonymous,  22 December, 2009 13:43  

Shame on the US in mixing humanitarian and military causes, putting the lives of aidworkers at stake.

Anonymous,  22 December, 2009 13:46  

The Uganda LRA, definitively. For their atrocities in DRC, Uganda, Chad and Sudan. And to the international community's inability to do anything about a handful of armed men creating havoc at that level.

Luc 22 December, 2009 13:48  

Ethiopia, for sure. Famine again. After unprecedented level of aid.

Aime 22 December, 2009 13:49  

How could you forget the thorough efforts of the Iranian governing elite to violently suppress peaceful demonstrations through whatever means they had.
Shame on the Iranian ruling class.


linda 22 December, 2009 14:37  

My nominee is the Belgian government in providing inadequate shelter for the homeless and the asylum seekers during the winter

Karen K. 22 December, 2009 15:05  

I'd have to nominate North Korea for their scare tactics, failure to cooperate, and of course for their human rights violations. This wasn't underreported but shame on the North Korean government(and in some ways us) for letting it all happen.

John Jacobs,  22 December, 2009 15:47  

ASEAN looks to improve trade relations at the expense of basic rights across the entire region, the US plays along. Genocide in Burma continues.

George Muammar 22 December, 2009 16:18  

Shame on the Gaza blockade that collectively punishes 1.5 million refugees by inhibiting education, reconstruction, health and nutrition to allow the people to break out of a vicious circle of abuse.
Highest grade weaponry has been used in the war to destroy and kill, yet due to the blockade primitive reconstruction materials and medications are now being used to save the people and the infrastructure.
The Gaza blockade is implemented by governments of Israel and Egypt and endorsed by most governments in general on request of Israel. It should not be permitted according to international human rights laws on several basis.
I realise that a "Shame top 10" nomination for Gaza is already nominated, however I believe that, although it may look cosmetically nicer to symmetrically accuse both Hamas and Israel, it does not reastically reflect the issues on the ground. Hamas is cruelly and strategically using the Gaza situation to it's political advantage, but it cannot be said that its human rights abuses are "equal" to those of Israel.

Anonymous,  22 December, 2009 18:29  

I don't get number 10. If anything, WHO overestimated the impact of H1N1, which got people serious about it and probably slowed the epidemic somewhat. WHO did their job, public health is just not a predictable or static science.
Definitely agree with all the other nominees though.

Peter 22 December, 2009 19:43  

Thanks all for the comments.

@George: I agree, will adapt in the final list
@anonymous: About WHO: you have a point.
@John and @Karen: good points

Keep the comments/nominations coming!


Anonymous,  22 December, 2009 21:41  

Should at least have an honourable mention: EU, Middle East and Far East countries buying up land in Africa, for biofuel production, or production of their own food.

Despite the fact that country does not produce enough food for their own yet.

Their own corrupt governments to blame, of course.

William Easterly 22 December, 2009 22:27  

Shame on official aid agencies, for not being accountable for the $100 billion a year that they mostly fail to get to the world's poor.

Carly 23 December, 2009 08:24  

To take what Prof Easterly says back a step, shame on official aid agencies for contributing such woeful levels of funding, and for a large percentage of these meager amounts being spent on external consultants flying in and out.

Anonymous,  23 December, 2009 16:23  

DRC, by far!

Georg 23 December, 2009 16:24  

In terms of abandoning their citizens, North Korea definitively should be on the list. Add Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Sudan and Iran to that list, and you have a pretty good overview of those states abusing human rights.

Anonymous,  23 December, 2009 18:33  

Ethiopia. their role in the Somalia crisis, discriminating the opposition in the provision of aid, and their civil war in Ogaden.

J. 24 December, 2009 00:08  

Shame on the government of China for equivocating in Sudan.
Shame on George W. Bush for initiating war in Iraq.
Shame on American Republicans for being such pains in the ass on healthcare reform.
Shame on the International Community for being so terribly schizophrenic at the cost of human suffering in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Sudan..............

Heidi 26 December, 2009 13:29  

The Philippines for "not wanting to internationalise" the resurgence of conflict in Mindanao and thereby keeping it nearly forgotten from the eye of the world.

Number of violence-induced IDPs on UNHCR country profile: 0 (I sent an email to update the website, so it might have been updated in the meantime - or not)

Number of IDPs according to IDMC: up to 330 000 - 400 000.

Also shame on the Philippine government to fail to put an end to the extrajudicial killings and disappearances of human rights activists.

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