opinion

Eurocentrism on Display: Western Embassies Redefine the International Community

Abdallah Obaid Allah

At last, we had a clear definition of the hitherto elusive notion of ” International community”!! Members of this exclusive club have announced their full names in a joint press statement issued by embassies of 13 Western countries and the EU in Khartoum, yesterday, on the current situation in Sudan. A paragraph in the press release, the Arabic version, reads: ” We, the members of the international community, are firm in our support to the Sudanese people to attain these rights” – in a reference to the rights to freedoms of assembly, speech, and press. 

This affirmation is, of course, good news. The bad news, however, is that the undersigned are representatives of only 13 countries out of the UN’s 193 member states. The UN was hitherto the nearest thing to embodying the international community. Western superpowers have long been accused of misappropriation of the term for themselves, however. The press release meant that Western superpowers are prepared to accommodate smaller powers in their for- members-only international community, but only from within their political sphere of influence. 

This is why Japan and South Korea were the only two countries from outside Western Europe and North America who made it to the privileged list. Forget about the other 180 member states of the UN family, including the most populous countries, like China and India with their almost 3 billion people, amounting to nearly half of humanity. They didn’t have the honor to join. 

This is Eurocentrism in its clearest manifest. One of the earlier theorists of Eurocentrism, Johann Heinrich Zedler wrote in 1741 that “even though Europe is the smallest of the world’s four continents, it has for various reasons a position that places it before all others… Its inhabitants have excellent customs, they are courteous and erudite in both sciences and crafts”. Little has changed in the Eurocentric worldview since, as the press release suggests. 

Yet, the content of the press release illustrates a great deal of inconsistency. It laments apparent setbacks in the democratic and human rights reforms Sudan adopted, in the wake of the 18 December 2018 Revolution. Examples cited for these reforms include abrogation of the Public Order Act, outlawing Female Genital Mutilation, actually abolished two decades ago, and signing the Global Pledge on Media Freedom. 

These achievements are now under threat after the Armed Forces seized power in the country on 25 October 2021, according to the press release. The press release, however, brushed aside very serious threats to democracy and human rights violations before 25 October 2021. 

These include the effective dissolution of Constitution Court, failure to commission election of Supreme Judicial Council and Attorney General Council, the deliberate undermining of the independence of judiciary, continuous dentition of several politicians, academicians, and civil society activists for up to 2 years without trial and purge of thousands of civil servants, diplomats, bankers, and university professors. 

The expressed concern in the press release over media freedom in Sudan is welcome. Eurocentrism and double standards, however, are not.

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