Thursday, June 23, 2011

UN Human Rights Council Has Outdone The UN Human Rights Commission As A Failure

And they said it couldn't be done.

It doesn't matter what you call it, as Anne Bayefsky writes--a Commission or a Council--the UN continues to make Israel a prime target, with a membership which is a who's who of human rights violators:
From the day it began, the council has proved to be even worse than its predecessor. Sitting in judgment on human rights violations worldwide are such luminaries as China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. Member Libya had no difficulty being elected, and its suspension didn’t occur until March of this year, when the numbers of dead finally proved too embarrassing. But throwing women in jail for driving, outlawing freedom of religion, rendering homosexuality a capital offense and periodically cutting off heads haven’t made a dent in Saudi membership.

ON THE contrary, the most recent council election, which took place on May 20 at the GA, looked like this. Just before the vote, candidate Kuwait gave each state’s representative in the Assembly Hall a little box decorated with its flag and containing four delightful fresh dates. Austria gave delegates a package of cookies with a pretty bow marked “taste of Austria.”

Costa Rica distributed a colorful red wooden toy cart. India handed out “high elevation darjeeling tea,” and Romania gave out a very nice large calendar. Along with Burkina Faso, where most of the female population has undergone female genital mutilation – aka torture – they were all duly elected.

And lest you doubt the UN Human Rights Council credentials as one of the world's most anti-Israel bodies, just take a look at their curriculum vitae:

o Of their fixed agenda of only a few items to govern their proceedings--one item is devoted to Israel alone, while their is one dedicated to all other 191 UN member states.

o While the Human Rights Commission dedicated 30% of all country-specific criticism to Israel over its 40 years, the new UN Human Rights Council has dedicated 50% of all country-specific resolutions to Israel

o There have been 12 special sessions in the Human Rights Council over the last five years--half of which have been on Israel alone.

o There has been only one “urgent debate” on a country – focused on Israel.

o The Human Rights Council has commissioned more human rights reports on Israel than on any other state.

o Only Israel is not allowed to attend the UN Human Right Council regional meetings dedicated to lobbying and information-sharing --but “Palestine” is invited to all of them.
The UN Human Rights Council has decided what their job is and is clearly focused it.

That has not stopped the US from patting itself on the back for their work on reforming the UNSC--
o Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice on March 31, 2009: "The Council... is scheduled to undergo a formal review of its structure and procedures in 2011, which will offer a significant opportunity for Council reform."

o US Ambassador to the Council Eileen Donahoe, wrote in a September 13, 2010, New York Times editorial, referred to that review as "a serious self-reflection exercise." Donahue further claimed "if we do not sit at the table with others and do the work necessary to influence the process, US values and priorities will not be reflected in the outcome."

o An Obama administration spokesperson claimed on March 25 of this year: "The United States... looks forward to working with UN member states as the HRC review process continues in New York. There is still room to... ensure greater scrutiny of the human rights records of candidates for election to this body."
In return, the Council said:
Warmest thanks... Our efforts were crowned by arriving at the document before us today... The main objective of our work was... not reform because the Council was already a reform of the Commission.
Continuing its standard of excellence, the UNSC recently condemned Israel's actions in regard to last years flotilla--but has yet to address the murder of unarmed civilians by the Syrian government.

Yet in the midst of all this, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Esther Brimmer has said with a straight face that the UN Human Rights Council has:
improved as the result of direct US engagement. If we cede ground, if our engagement in the UN system is restricted – these bodies likely would be dominated by our adversaries. A scenario... not good for the United States and certainly not for Israel.
Anne Bayefsky concludes that:
at the end of the day there is no escaping the fact that in the name of human rights, the administration has trashed the fundamental norm of human rights protection – equality. And genuine human rights advocates ought to know only too well how exemption clauses on human dignity are bound to turn out.
And if you don't know how it will turn out--just keep an eye on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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