As the UN Human Rights Council completed its 4th year, delegates heard testimony from UN Watch on the past 12 months of council reactions to violations worldwide.I have no idea if Hillel Neuer is making the slightest impact on a thoroughly corrupt organization, or if he is paradoxically enabling them to act as badly as they do since he provides them with the fig leaf of being even-handed. Either way, he deserves kudos for single-handedly taking the fight right to the enemy.
The Past Year: Inaction and Double StandardsMr. President, in Article 1 of the Vienna Declaration, the States assembled here committed to protect all human rights. Is the Council living up to this obligation? Focusing thematically on the right to life, let us consider one example from each of the past 12 months:
UN Human Rights Council, 14th Session,
Delivered by Executive Director , 15 June 2010
• June 2009—Tehran. Hundreds of thousands gather peacefully to protest a questionable election. The government responds with brutality. Dozens are killed, hundreds injured, thousands arrested.
• July—China. Troops fire on Uighur protesters; 200 killed, 1700 injured.
• August—Russia. Two aid workers killed in Chechnya, government complicity suspected.
• September—Yemen. Government warplanes bomb a refugee camp, killing 80.
This Council’s response? Silence.
• October—Iraq. A terrorist attacks a mosque, killing the imam and 14 others.
• November—The Phillipines. Fifty-seven opposition activists massacred.
• December—Iran. Renewed protests meet with bullets, beatings and arrests; 10 killed.
• January—Pakistan. One hundred and eighty-two civilians killed in 42 attacks.
This Council’s response? Silence.
• February— . A Taliban attack kills 18, injuring 32, including doctors.
• March—Nigeria. 500 Christians slaughtered in religious killings.
• April—Kyrgyzstan. Troops fire on demonstrators; 84 killed.
• Finally, May. Libya executes 18 foreigners, without due process.
Mr. President, faced with these and other gross violations of the Vienna Declaration, what was this council’s standard response? Silence. No resolutions; no urgent sessions; no investigations. Nothing.
Yet two weeks ago, when Israel defended itself against violent Jihadists on the so-called humanitarian flotilla, we witnessed another standard—a double standard.
Suddenly the council sprang into action, with an urgent debate, a resolution condemning Israel, and yet another investigation where the guilty verdict was declared in advance.
Meanwhile, in this session, not a single resolution has been adopted for 191 other countries.
Mr. President, is the right to life, as guaranteed under the Vienna Declaration, being protected?
No—on the contrary. And millions of victims are paying the price.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Another recent UN Watch speech:
Mr. President, we meet under the agenda item targeting Israel. There are two things terribly wrong with this disproportionate focus.
First, it is biased. After the item was adopted in 2007, the UK said “the practice of ‘singling out one’ risked undermining the Human Rights Council’s own principles.” France said it was “contrary to non-selectivity.” Canada noted that the Council breached its own principles-of universality, impartiality, objectivity, and non-selectivity. Targeting any UN member state, said Canada, was “politicized, selective, partial, and subjective.”
But Mr. President, there is something far more pernicious that ought to concern all supporters of human rights.
On 20 June 2007, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized “the Council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item, given the range of human rights violations throughout the entire world.”
These words were never more clear than today.
For the second time in this brief session, we have spent the entire day today discussing alleged violations of Israel, hearing various reports about redundant investigations, all of which are have pre-determined conclusions.
Yet even as we meet, the international community is witnessing a grave and worsening human rights and humanitarian tragedy in Kyrgyzstan.
At least 200 have been slaughtered; 1500 injured; and 100,000 refugees seek to cross the border to escape the violence. The Red Cross warned just now that the humanitarian crisis that is “getting worse by the hour.”
Witnesses report that women and children are being shot as they try to flee, and that bodies litter the city’s streets and many of its destroyed buildings. According to Dilmurad Ishanov, an Uzbek human rights worker in Osh, “They are killing Uzbeks like animals. Almost the whole city is in flames.”
Mr. President, we heard speeches today from Libya, Syria, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Venezuela, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League.
I ask them: If all human beings are equal, why are you silent today for the victims of Kyrgyzstan?
After you called an urgent debate and investigation for the so-called humanitarian flotilla, why do you not do the same for what everyone agrees is a humanitarian tragedy of colossal proportions?
Mr. President, this agenda item deafens our ears to the cries of human rights victims everywhere.