EVEN when the UN Human Rights Council comes together as a force for good, as it did yesterday during a special session on the critical human rights situation in Burundi, its work is tarnished by certain countries’ laughable contributions.
Several UN officials — including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide — warned of the increasingly ethnic tone of the violence that has plagued Burundi since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to eschew the constitutional limit and run for a third term, and expressed alarm at recent government rhetoric and the very real threat of impending genocide. The Council’s 47 member states, and all other countries who participate as observers, were then invited to take the floor.
Iran, rather than acknowledging the recent comments by senior members of the Burundi government, whose rhetoric is distressingly similar to that of the Rwandan government on the eve of the 1994 genocide, reaffirmed its “commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Burundi” and called on the international community to “provide support to Burundi.”
Venezuela found time to blame the “nefarious effects of the world financial crisis,” “the capitalist crisis,” as a cause of Burundi’s troubles.
North Korea stole the show, however, condemning the “selective and one-sided reports” of the situation and reiterated its oft-repeated position that human rights dialogue should be “free from unilateral, coercive, confrontational and selective condemnation based on political motives,” insisting that “any attempts to interfere in the internal affairs and impose unacceptable pressure under the pretext of human rights should not be justified.”