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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The UNHRC should be abolished (Joo-Liz and Zvi)

Two good comments on my post about UN Watch, first from Joo-Liz:

I have heard Hillel Neuer speak at a campus visit last year, and he firmly believes in the work that he does.

As he put it, the UNGA has the "Power of the Purse" (finances/aid/budgeting), the UNSC has the "Power of the Boots" (actual interventions), and the UNHRC has the "Power of 'Name and Shame'".

To open societies that are used to criticism, free press, and that are constantly held to account, the power granted to the UNHRC seems rather impotent, but to despotic regimes that systematically shutdown opposition voices, it is a truly frightening thing.

The whole hi-jacking of the Human Rights Council by all the human rights abusers is a strategic alliance on their parts, to prevent the power of the Council from being turned against them. To that end, he described a whole litany of outrageous activities being carried out, including the use of GONGOs (Government-Operated NGOs) and numerous other deceptive tactics... most notably from our perspective -- the stacking of the agenda against Israel and the West so that there quite literally isn't enough time in the working schedule each year to deal with any of the other abuses occurring around the world.

I think from that perspective, every opportunity he has to speak to the council and call them out on their hypocrisy is beneficial. Especially when later publicized on YouTube and with press releases like these.

And from Zvi:

The UNHRC should be abolished.

The idea that a human rights body (UNHRC) may have membership rules that permit the world's most repressive regimes to be seated as decision-making members is absurd.

The UNHRC includes some of the world's worst abusers of human rights. The following list includes Freedom House scores (2-14, with 2 being "free" and 14 representing the world's most repressive dictatorships):

Libya: 14
Saudi Arabia: 13
Cuba: 13
China: 13
Cameroon: 12
...

A so-called human rights council that seats Libya, Saudi Arabia and Cuba as members is a fraud perpetrated upon the people of the world.

The UN does perform some valid functions, its political structure clearly renders it incapable of performing as a human rights policeman. It has demonstrated this through two iterations of "human rights councils," both of which have been hijacked by blocs of anti-Israel countries and reduced to political attack dogs that serve no useful human rights function.

The UN is the wrong forum for identifying and dealing with human rights abuses. Repressive dictatorships, frequently acting as a bloc and intimidating less interested countries, use the UNHRC to prevent criticism of their own actions and advance anti-democratic agendas such as suppression of free speech (under the guise of combating Islamophobia) or preventing Israel from defending its citizens. The UN provides a false aura of respectability and impartiality that makes such activities dangerous.

The UNHRC should be abolished. If democratic nations that support human rights wish to create a truly authoritative Human Rights Commission, they are always free to do so, just as they have created other democracy-only organizations in the past (the EU being an example). But such an organization MUST include strict rules that allow ONLY countries meeting some basic level of respect for human rights to participate. Such an organization will not be perfect (we see EU members attacking Israel every day, even when they have their "facts" wrong), but there is at least a ghost of a chance that it will address anti-Uzbek pogroms in Kyrgyzstan, genocide in the Sudan, the starvation of Yemenis, extreme levels of religious repression in Saudi Arabia, North Korea's systematic starvation of its people and so on. Such an organization will have much more moral authority than the UNHRC. The countries that comprise it will at least have a clue what due process means, even if some of them are still dodgy, and they will have less invested in protecting themselves from investigation and more invested in addressing the rights of people around the world. They will be countries that practice human rights at home.

The UNHRC will never, ever act against extreme human rights abuses. Instead, it will perform its primary task: distracting everyone from real problems by attacking Israel. Western countries should refuse to play this vicious little game anymore.

The UNHRC should be abolished.