Germany promises dictatorships “no confrontation” to win UNHRC seat

How’s this for absurd? It seems that for Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Greece and the United States to win one of three allotted Western seats on the U.N. Human Rights Council, our democracies are obliged to prostrate themselves before the world’s worst dictatorships.

Each candidate requires a minimum of 97 affirmative votes in tomorrow’s U.N. General Assembly ballot; the three with the most votes win.  See full details in UN Watch’s new report.

Because there are so many non-democracies and tyrannies among the 193 voting nations, candidates like Germany are effectively promising to give gross violators a free pass, perpetuate the Council’s dysfunctional functioning as a toothless talk shop, and proclaim that Western democracies are no better than anyone else.

Here’s what we learn from AFP:

The Geneva-based council’s new importance could be seen by the stepped up lobbying for spots. Germany sent foreign minister Guido Westerwelle to New York this week to press his country’s case.
“This is really a key issue, human rights, for us,” Westerwelle told a reception for UN ambassadors. Specifically, here is what he promised the voters:
The Human Rights Council should not be a venue for making “sweeping allegations,” the minister added.
But whoever said it was? On the contrary, apart from its obsession with Israel, the council’s real problem is that it won’t utter a single word against such gross violators as China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe — all of whom have never been subjected to a single resolution. The problem, then, is lack of any allegations, not one of “sweeping allegations.”
Westerwelle continued:
“Developed countries do not have a monopoly on safeguarding human rights.”
Translation: We in the West are as repressive as anyone else. So again, don’t worry: a vote for Germany on the council is a vote for shielding your regime.
Since one of Germany’s competitors is the U.S. — the leading country in trying to name and shame abusers (albeit only regarding a handful) — this might be a way of differentiating Berlin from Washington to win favor in the eyes of the numerous developing world voters.
And finally, in case it wasn’t clear yet, FM Westerwelle declares Germany’s policy:

“We want to act as a bridge builder. Cooperation not confrontation is the motto which guides our action.”

Ah, a “bridge-builder.” An expression in Geneva that means appeasing dictators. With this same logic the EU justified Libya’s election as chair of the old discredited Commission on Human Rights. As reported in 2003, Europe didn’t want to “alienate Africa and other developing countries” and “undermine the commission’s work.” Gaddafi’s spokesman duly thanked Libya’s supporters, including “European countries, and particularly France, Italy and Britain.”

So much for any hope that the European Union will even attempt any serious reform of the U.N. ‘s highest human rights body, or try to make it systematically address the world’s worst violators of human rights.

Helping Westerwelle is Deutschwelle. In this report, Germany’s state-funded radio quotes Germany state-funded German Institute for Human Rights for the proposition that Germany is qualified for a seat.

Fine. But note what they emphasize:

“Germany also promotes fundamental rights, including the right to adequate housing and the right to water and sanitation.” This track record, [director] Beate Rudolf believes, makes a good case for Germany’s election to the UN Human Rights Council.

Housing and water are real issues for millions. But there are dozens of other U.N. agencies which have this responsibility, and the budgets to go with it.

Yet other than the Human Rights Council, the U.N. has no special agencies mandated to uphold the individual freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly, and so forth.

The dictators want to limit the discussion to how the West must keep sending their kleptocracies millions in aid.

And, in order to get elected, it seems that Germany — and Sweden, Ireland, Greece, and the U.S.? — are willing to play along.

UN Watch

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