Does boycotting work?
Robert Mugabe has been the leader of Zimbabwe since 1980. In the most recent election, he lost but used his executive power and intimidation to force a run-off. In the run-up to that election, Zimbabweans who did not show loyalty to the leader were intimidated and killed. The opposition candidate dropped out of the race because he did not want more of his supporters murdered. It all sounds like some horrible movie, but it's real. What can be done in such a situation? It's a domestic issue so the UN is unlikely to involve itself with the internal issues of sovereign states. Is boycotting an effective means to foster change in Zimbabwe?
Recently, the issue of boycotting has become front and center here in Korea, not about US beef, but about advertisers. Some groups have been advocating the boycott of advertisers on Dong-A, Chosun, and Joon-Ang Ilbo because the papers were seen as too supportive of US interests in the recent protests against US beef. The Korea Communications Standards Commission ruled that the boycott campaign organized on Daum was illegal. The three publications have since threatened more legal action against Daum. With all these issues of boycotting around us, there seems no better time to consider if boycotting is effective.
* It's morally right. To say that genocide is wrong and then trade with a country committing genocide of its people is supporting genocide. It is, quite simply, the right thing to do to boycott nations or companies that do things that are repulsive.
* Boycotts bring light to wrongdoings. The world boycotted South Africa during the time of apartheid and this helped force South Africa to abandon apartheid and usher in a time of equality. The Montgomery bus boycott of 1956 shamed the segregated mass transit system of Montgomery and led to a Supreme Court case that declared segregated buses were unconstitutional.
* It only hurts the underprivileged. Dictators and the power elite will manage to get their food and other needs, but a lack of food access for the poor will result in starvation and possibly death. How can the starving masses topple a dictator?
* Boycotts are porous. Many authoritarian regimes, such as Zimbabwe and Myanmar, oppress their own people and are boycotted by the west. This does not stop countries such as China from buying natural resources from the boycotted nations. In such events, the regimes still make money and the cost of goods is driven down for China due to a lack of competition. Pakistan's boycott of India has not stopped India from becoming an economic juggernaut.
Last week I received some emails about listing off some possible debate topics. Here is a look at the topics for the next five weeks. Debaters are encouraged to give the topics a try before seeing the columns.
* Should military intervention deliver emergency aid in humanitarian crises?
* Does the government have a duty to bail out failing financial institutions?
* Should unethically obtained data be banned from scientific research?
* Should directors of multinational companies be held liable for environmental abuses committed by their companies in the developing world?
* Should the permanent membership of the UN Security Council be expanded?
If you need help with debate or debate-related events such as MUN, email Roger Hatridge at email@example.com.