Alex J. Bellamy

Alex J. Bellamy is Professor of International Security at the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University, Australia.

Criticism of the Secretary-General's own performance in relation to human rights tended to focus on his perceived failure to denounce violations, especially in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and China. Such criticism runs counter to recent academic research which has shown that isolating states is a relatively ineffective way of responding to chronic human rights problems. And, for the record, the Secretary-General has repeatedly voiced concern about human rights in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. The dispute, though, is more about tactics than substance. Each individual case is different, and what might work in one place might not in another. Sometimes the Secretary-General has taken considerable political risks to protect human rights, most notably in the case of Côte d'Ivoire, in early 2011. Such tactics are not likely to work often.