You remember the replacement of the "Commission on Human Rights" By the "Human Rights Council" in the UN?
The council replaced what was widely viewed as a cancer on the United Nations — an ineffectual "Commission on Human Rights" that also had a single-minded focus on Israel. According to former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "the selectivity and politicizing of its activities [were] in danger of bringing the entire U.N. system into disrepute."
The removal of the diseased commission two years ago was heralded by U.N. officials as "the dawn of a new era." Its replacement was designed to have stricter standards for membership, and rules to prevent politicized voting. But such safeguards were neutered by the time the new Human Rights Council was approved, and the results are that the council is no better than its predecessor.
Why is it no better than its predecessor? Two countries demonstrate it better than any others: Darfur and Israel.
As fresh waves of violence convulsed Darfur in December, the council responded by dismissing the team of experts tasked with monitoring atrocities in that region. Sudan's closest allies, Egypt and China, have led the council in shielding the Sudanese regime.
Even mild resolutions, like a Canadian proposal requesting the prosecution of those responsible for abuses in Darfur, have been rejected. Reports from U.N. fact-finding missions implicating Sudan's government in torture, rape and mass murder — including one led by Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams earlier this year — have been discarded. And while world leaders labeled the Sudanese regime's actions as genocide, the council continued to commend Sudan's conduct and assign blame to "all parties" involved. In the face of the world's worst human-rights crisis, it has refused to issue a single condemnation.
But Israel? No problem issuing condemnations against that country:
Last week the U.N. Human Rights Council held an emergency session, organized by Arab and Muslim nations, to condemn Israel for its military actions in the Gaza strip. That the council is capable of swift and decisive action is a welcome surprise; that Israel remains the only nation to provoke such action is not. In the 17 months since its inception, the body has passed 13 condemnations, 12 of them against Israel.
I'm sure you're surprised, right? So why has this new version become like the old version of the UN body on "human rights"? Because bureaucrats and functionaries caved in on the purpose of the new commission - to monitor human rights around the world and to use free countries to do so while removing politics from the mix - and have built a council which is the antithesis of that purpose:
The problems begin with the council's composition. Only 25 of its 47 members are classified as "free democracies," according to Freedom House's ranking of civil liberties. Nine are classified as "not free." Four — China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia — are ranked as the "worst of the worst." These nations are responsible for repeated violations of the U.N.'s own Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet it is they who dominate the council, leading a powerful bloc of predominantly Arab and African nations that consistently vote as a unit.
These regimes have repeatedly used the council as a powerful tool for shielding themselves from scrutiny and meting out criticism along stark political lines. According to Human Rights Watch, the council has turned a blind eye to at least 26 countries — the sites of some of the world's worst human-rights crises.
And many of those are shielding their own countries from scrutiny and criticism. I mean, Cuba on a "Human Rights Council?" Cuba, of course, has taken full advantage of the cover it's given them:
In some cases, the council has actively eroded the level of monitoring. Last year, when Cuba drew fire for persecuting journalists, and Belarus for political imprisonments and rigged elections, the council responded by removing monitors from both countries.
What we're left with is business as usual at the UN. As long as its Human Rights Council is composed of countries such as Cuba and China, the UN is an organization which can't be taken seriously. The organization formed with such high ideals last century has devolved into a toothless, spineless third world debating club which gives cover to the worst human rights offenders. It is way past time we left this dysfunctional organization - it has proven time and time again it is beyond repair.
Once again, no one in the press will pay any attention to this story, just like they pooh-pooh the other various UN scandals while declaring that body the sole moral authority of the world. When can we evict them already?
The UN, I mean. I understand the press is firmly entrenched.