Cuba on Tuesday secured a seat on the new U.N. Human Rights Council, which replaced an agency where abusers were often members, obtaining the seventh spot out of eight reserved for Latin American and Caribbean nations.
Cuba's candidacy was viewed as a test case for the seriousness of the new Council. Other nations with questionable rights records that were elected at a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York included Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.
But General Assembly President Jan Eliasson, who oversaw the negotiations that created the new council, downplayed the election of some nations accused of rights abuses, saying it was nonetheless a ''truly historic occasion'' and a ''new departure'' for human rights work worldwide.
A new departure? Yeah, from the same old tired station. If Cuba was a test, the UNHRC flunked.
We should have learned all of this ages ago. We've seen it here countless times. When you ask an institution to reform itself, the best you get is cosmetic change designed to quiet the majority of the critics. But they are incapable of implementing real change.
Look at Congress and lobbying reform, for instance. Why should a bureaucracy such as the UN be different? It was obvious it only made cosmetic changes in its earlier and much anticipated reform movement. Why should we expect more as concerns the Human Rights Council?
Wow. I just attended a speech by Kofi Annan last Friday. This is about what I expected after that.
Subtly chastising the Bush administration for declining to seek election next week to a new Human Rights Council, Annan said the first members of this body will have a heavy responsibility.
"It depends on them whether the Council really is a spectacular improvement or simply continues the practices of the old commission under a new name," Annan said in a speech at George Washington University where he received an honorary degree of doctor of public service.
Funny, but the Bush administration seems to have no problem aligning itself with repressive regimes at the UN, including Cuba. So why are you so upset? From Human Rights Watch:
(Washington, D.C., January 25, 2006) - In a reversal of policy, the United States on Monday backed an Iranian initiative to deny United Nations consultative status to organizations working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, a coalition of 40 organizations, led by the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called for an explanation of the vote which aligned the United States with governments that have long repressed the rights of sexual minorities.
“This vote is an aggressive assault by the U.S. government on the right of sexual minorities to be heard,” said Scott Long, director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch. “It is astonishing that the Bush administration would align itself with Sudan, China, Iran and Zimbabwe in a coalition of the homophobic.”
In voting against the applications to the NGO committee, the U.S. was joined by Cameroon, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Votes in favor of consultative status came from Chile, France, Germany, Peru, and Romania. Colombia, India, and Turkey abstained, while Côte d’Ivoire was absent.
Bush votes with Cuba, Iran, Zimbabwe, Sudan and China on a human rights issue, and against our democratic allies. Then the Bush administration turns around and criticizes the inclusion of Cuba on the Human Rights Council.
The hypocrisy of the Bush administration knows no bounds.
Cuba has a program that sends doctors all over the globe, mostly to disadvantaged places where "First World" doctors are in scarce supply, such as earthquake ravaged Pakistan. They have been praised by the UNHRC for these efforts.
The United States has a "program" that sends some of its own citizens to a prison of questionable legality in Cuba, often without charges and access to legal council, for indefinite peroids of time. They have been soundly criticized by the UNHRC for these actions and the alledged living conditions in the prison.
If Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia can be on it why would Cuba raise any eyebrows? More to the point, it is John Bolton’s job to prevent outcomes like this one, not throw up his hands in despair. This result is a failure of John Bolton and the President to whom he reports, not a vindiation. If we didn’t want Cuba on, we could have prevented it with a little basic diplomacy. Instead, Bolton chose to screw the whole process up and then act surprised when he failed to accomplish our goals.
Come on, with a name like Retief your trust in diplomats is absurd. Did you ever read those books by Keith Laumer? In the Retief books, all diplomats were complete poseurs and ineffectual fools.
Anyway, you make it sound like all the US has to do is snap its fingers and poof, le viola, magic.
Unfortunately the society of kleptocrats known as the UN takes great pride in going out of their way to thumb their nose at the US (and this has been there since the 70s, Bush not withstanding).
Given all we know about the way the UN is run, I find your obsequious fandom towards the UN rather naive. Remmber the Oil For Food, the countless genocides NOT prevented (except for the one in Kosovo, where any others prevented at all), the current and ongoing child abuse scandals by UN peacekeepers and diplomats ( the same ones you would find in Laumers books), the massive embezzlement of funds. Yikes, man.
captjoe, the UN is a venue for, and a mechanism of, pursuing our foreign policy goals. Failure to acomplish our goals there is not the fault of the venue. And no, it’s not a snap of the fingers but it’s not rocket science either. It’s diplomacy 101. Spread money around, spread prestige around, stroke egos, give a little. This is what Quadaffi did a few years ago to get on the old human rights counil. If we’d cared to, we have a much bigger store of money, prestige and ego strokers to use. But we didn’t bother then or now.
And if we have annoyed so many people around the world that the little countries do delight in thwarting us for spite, that too is a failure of Bush and Bolton and their predecessors. It is not the existence of a venue in which those little countries can vent their displeasure that is to blame.