Thursday, October 12, 2006

Yet Another United Nations Fiasco

An editorial in the Washington Post:
A MAJOR piece of the United Nations reform promised by Secretary General Kofi Annan was a new Human Rights Council. The idea was to replace the Commission on Human Rights, which had been hijacked by rogue states such as Libya and Sudan, with a body that could refocus attention on serious human rights violations around the world -- and in so doing remove what Mr. Annan said was “the shadow” cast by the old organization on “the United Nations system as a whole.”

When the Human Rights Council was approved by the General Assembly in March, we were among the skeptics who doubted that it would be much of a change, mainly because the membership rules still allowed for the election of human rights violators. As it turned out, we were wrong: The council, which completed its second formal session last week in Geneva, has turned out to be far worse than its predecessor -- not just a “shadow” but a travesty that the United Nations can ill afford.

The new council . . . has so far taken action on only one country, which has dominated the debate at both of its regular meetings and been the sole subject of two extraordinary sessions: Israel.

Western human rights groups sought to focus the council’s attention on Darfur, where genocide is occurring, and on Uzbekistan, where a dictator refuses to allow the investigation of a massacre by his security forces. Their efforts have been in vain. Instead, the council has treated itself to report after report on the alleged crimes of the Jewish state; in all, there were six official “rapporteurs” on that subject in the latest session alone. One, Jean Ziegler, is supposed to report on “the right to food.” But he, too, delivered a diatribe on Israeli “crimes” in Lebanon.

This ludicrous diplomatic lynch mob has been directed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which accounts for 17 governments on the 47-member council and counts on the support of like-minded dictatorships such as Cuba and China. Council rules allow an extraordinary session to be called at the behest of just one-third of the membership, making it easy for the Islamic association to orchestrate anti-Israel spectacles. Several Muslim governments that boast of a new commitment to democracy and human rights -- including Jordan and Morocco -- have readily joined in this willful sabotage of those values.
Liberals who criticize the Bush Administration for failing to be properly deferential to the U.N. appear to be living in 1945, when hope was high in the hearts of the internationalist idealists for a truely effective international body.

They don’t seem to have been paying much attention since.

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