|For Immediate Release:|
June 20, 2012
|Contact: Anne Bayefsky|
Follow us on Twitter
This article by Anne Bayefsky appears today on National Post.
The UN’s top human rights body, the UN Human Rights Council, opened its current session in Geneva this week with…Canada-bashing. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, ran down a list of human rights issues around the world that in her view were particularly pressing: Syria for crimes against humanity, a military coup in Mali, torture and summary executions in Eritrea, political prison camps and public executions in North Korea – and human rights in Quebec.
The only human rights issue Pillay described as “alarming” were “moves to restrict freedom of assembly” and the only alarming instance she could summon up were restrictions in Quebec. The only issue about which she said she was “disappointed” was the law in Quebec. And the only specific concern she had with the violation of “freedom of association” anywhere the world over was in Quebec.
What’s behind her preposterous move?
In the same speech she spoke about those very same rights in a different context, namely, the Arab world. Her short remark was this: “She [the UN Deputy High Commissioner] visited Lebanon in May 2012, to attend a regional conference on freedoms of expression, association and assembly.” In other words, the High Commissioner used the occasion of landscaping the world’s human rights problems and her office’s response, to promote a Hezbollah-backed “human rights” charade and legitimize the terrorist-backed government’s purported interest in freedom of expression, association and assembly.
More specifically, her deputy Kyung-wha Kang traveled to the Lebanese conference on May 22, 2012, glad-handed Hezbollah-backed officials, and declared to the assembled: “Countries represented here today are States Party to most of the core international human rights treaties, and to the Arab Charter on Human Rights. The human rights standards developed by the community of States in those treaties provide us with the necessary guidelines that define freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly. They define the allowable restrictions and the scope of interpretation that can help find the needed balance.”
Just what does the Arab Charter on Human Rights say? It begins with the following “human rights” agenda: “Rejecting all forms of racism and Zionism, which constitute a violation of human rights and a threat to international peace and security.” It goes on to reaffirm “the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam” which – among other things declares “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari'ah.”
So now what we know what “definitions” and “balance” would make more sense to the UN’s top human rights officials than Bill 78.
Perhaps most troubling about Pillay’s action, was the total failure of the UN’s top human rights expert to acknowledge the essential distinction between democracies and non-democracies. The Quebec law has been challenged in a court system characterized by an independent judiciary which will ultimately determine its legality. Though the difference between Canada and the Syria’s of this world could not be more basic, a twisted concept of even-handedness drives UN outcomes.
Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, has long been familiar with this UN modus operandi. The Human Rights Council – created in 2006 as the new and improved version of the UN Human Rights Commission that once sported Libya as its President – has adopted resolutions and decisions condemning specific states for human rights violations. 41% of all them have been directed at Israel alone.
By contrast, there has been no resolution about Saudi Arabia, which this week again beheaded someone for sorcery, witchcraft and adultery. Nor has there been a single resolution on China, where fleeing to the American embassy during a visit of the U.S. Secretary of State is the most viable option for a human rights activist wanting to leave the country. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia and China are both members of the Human Rights Council. Exasperated by the hypocrisy, Israel has decided not to participate in the kangaroo court and this is the first session in which its observer seat is empty.
Navi Pillay’s decision to target Canada in this go-round was, therefore, entirely in character. She is perhaps best known for having questioned the legality of the killing of Osama Bin Laden within hours of his death. She is also the lead champion of the Durban “anti-racism” declaration and remained glued to her chair during the second Durban Conference – while diplomats from democratic states walked out en masse – when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned the veracity of the Holocaust.
The tragedy of the contorted view of human rights applied by UN officials anxious to impress UN majorities – Pillay’s term was renewed just a few weeks ago – is that Canada is a true friend of human rights at home and abroad. Over the years, regardless of party, Canadian representatives have never argued that Canada is above reproach and cannot do better. Not only has Canada been generous with human rights-related dollars on many fronts, for decades it has taken the lead at the UN itself on central human rights issues ranging from freedom of expression to Iran.
Today’s UN “human rights” system, therefore, poses a serious challenge for democracies wanting to move forward, a challenge requiring a fundamental rethinking of international priorities, institutional commitments, and new organizations fit for the 21st century.
For more United Nations coverage see www.EYEontheUN.org.