Thursday, February 03, 2011

The state of human rights at the UN (UN Watch)

UN Watch's Hillel Neuer testified before Congress about the state of human rights at the UN:

The transcript is here. Excerpts:

The urgent problem that I wish to address is the state of human rights at the United

As you know, the primary U.N. body in this area is the 47-nation Human Rights Council,
which was created in 2006 to replace the Commission on Human Rights and redress its
shortcomings. Under its founding resolution, the council was required to review its work
and functioning after five years. With this review now underway at the U.N., our own
discussion here is particularly timely.

Let us consider, then: How has the council performed in its first five years?


Let us measure the council’s performance by the yardstick of the U.N.’s own standards.
These were set forth in 2005 by then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In calling to
scrap the old commission, he identified its core failings:

 Countries had sought membership “not to strengthen human rights but to protect
themselves against criticism or to criticize others.”

 The commission was undermined by the “politicization of its sessions” and the
“selectivity of its work.”

 The commission suffered from “declining professionalism” and a “credibility
deficit”— which “cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as
a whole.”

Today, we ask: Has the council remedied these fatal flaws?

Looking ahead, the U.N. General Assembly made clear its expectations for the new
council. Resolution 60/251 of 2006 promised that the new council would elect members
committed to human rights. Serious violators would have their membership suspended.
The council would address the world’s most severe abuses, including by urgent sessions
that could be easily convened. The council’s work would be objective, impartial and nonselective.

Five years later, where do we stand?


Turning A Blind Eye to Victims

Apart from a handful of exceptions, such as resolutions on Burma and North Korea that
were inherited from the old commission, the council has systematically turned a blind eye
to the world’s worst human rights violations. The council has failed the victims who are
most in need of international attention.

Impunity for Worst of the Worst

o There have been no resolutions for victims in China, despite gross,
systematic and state-wide repression, the unjust imprisonment of Nobel
Laureate Liu Xiaobo, the massacre of Uighurs, and the killing of Tibetans;

o None for Cuba, where peaceful civic activists are beaten or languish in

o None for Iran, even as it massacred its own citizens while the council was
in session, and even as the regime continues to subject democracy activists
to torture, rape and execution;

o None for Saudi Arabia, where women are subjugated;

o None for Zimbabwe, despite ongoing brutality by the Mugabe regime;

o And the list goes on. In total, beyond the impunity for the worst of the
worst, approximately 180 out of 192 U.N. member states have never been
condemned by the council once for any human rights violations.

What is most troubling is that no resolutions have even been proposed regarding these
gross violators. For this the democratic minority cannot blame others.