Sometimes you will hear a speech or read a press release and it is clear that the author (if not the presenter) is a particularly skilled word-smith who is right on (the wanted) message. Other times you will hear a speech or read a press release that is simply an absolute failure in clearly getting a message across. That either should be memorable, as well as coherent and concise or absent thereof, makes such public communication one of two things – truly wonderful, or an unmitigated disaster.
However, you then have people like me – people who whilst taking note of what is in a speech or press release, also take note of what isn’t in it – and then ponder why it isn’t in it.
Thus we have the latest press release of 18th February from the European Council listing the human rights priorities for the EU.
Naturally, as somebody who is very much a supporter of anything that attempts to deal with the abhorrent issue of human trafficking, I am somewhat disappointed that as the writer of this press release chose to identify certain generalised (as in not nation specific) human rights issues – human trafficking is missing from the list specifically chosen to highlight.
Perhaps made all the more disappointing because it is a headline item for OSCE under the Ukrainian chairmanship and a continually highlighted issue by the UN. An issue that affects almost all UN members and EU member states alike.
(That is not to say the EU made no mention of human trafficking yesterday – it did – and I will write about that tomorrow – although Ukraine was absent a mention again – In fact Ukraine was only mentioned in the EU Council of Ministers EaP statement which I will come on to in a few days.)
Secondly, when making nation specific comments, I am left to wonder why Ukraine gets no mention considering the biggest, most technical and protracted policy document ever created by, and due to be applied to the most significant of the EU’s eastern partners is likely to be scuttled in no small part by the issues of “selective/politically motivated” prosecutions of opposition figures – all issues pending the European Court of Human Rights no less. This is not a human rights priority for the EU given what is at stake?
Whilst I agree that there is often a need to make specific mention of the worst offenders or those in most need of help at almost any given opportunity, looking at the nations specifically mentioned in this press release, the worst offenders and nations in most need of help seem to be somewhat subjective – to be as kind as possible – and willfully selective to avoid certain nations where the EU and/or its allies have vested interests that continue to trump (EU) moral values – to be rather blunt.
Unfortunately, all too often when necessarily broad statements are made and then specific examples are included, those not mentioned tend to draw some form of vindication from their omission whilst others become significantly disheartened by such omissions. It also appears somewhat scattergun and thus impact seems lessened
Broad statements for broad issues and separate pointed statements for deliberate targets have far less chance of conveying the wrong message I would suggest.