PRESS RELEASE

GENEVA, February 20, 2009 — The United Nations Human Rights Council special session today on the financial crisis is a waste of the organization’s precious time, resources, and moral capital, said a human rights watchdog group.

“Instead of addressing outrages like China’s killings in Tibet, Russian brutality in Chechnya and Georgia, or radical Islamist terror in Mumbai, Kabul, Baghdad, and around the globe, the council is wasting its precious time, resources, and moral capital on an issue involving no clear violation, perpetrator or victim,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva based monitoring organization.

“Several other U.N. bodies deal with economic issues, but only one is mandated to deal with abuses of freedom of speech, religious repression and denial of political liberty,” said Neuer.

“The council is diverting attention from the world’s worst abusers and diluting the seriousness of the human rights agenda. It did this with an emergency session last year on the food crisis. The meeting was futile not least because the council, unlike other relevant international bodies, has neither power to exercise nor money to allocate. Today’s meeting will be equally futile.”

“If banking, mortgages and stocks are a human rights issue, what isn’t? If everything is a human right issue, then nothing is. It’s the same problem with the new UN report decrying extreme weather and dropping sea levels for ‘violating the rights of peoples’,” said Neuer.

“The political agenda here is a bit more than nothingness. Many dictatorships at the U.N. want to point an accusing finger at the failures of the democratic West, to convince their subjects of the superiority of repressive regimes ruled by the likes of Qaddafi, Castro, and the Chinese Communist Party.”

The council was created in 2006 to replace its discredited predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. Despite claiming to be reformed, the 47-nation council actually intensified the disproportionate criticism of Israel that discredited the commission, in 21 of 26 council censures of countries, and in 5 out of 9 emergency sessions. The resolutions protested Israeli actions, but not those of Hamas and Hezbollah.

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