GENEVA, January 25, 2010 — Today’s decision by the UN’s 47-nation Human Rights Council to convene a special session on Haiti this Wednesday is “a harmful waste of the organization’s precious time, resources, and moral capital,” said a human rights watchdog group.
“Haiti is a dire emergency for which this council has the capacity to do absolutely nothing,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based monitoring organization. The UNHRC is mandated to protect and promote human rights, but has no budget or authority concerning humanitarian aid.
“Unlike other UN bodies, the Human Rights Council has neither the power of the purse or the sword, only the power to turn a spotlight on the worst abusers,” said Neuer. “Yet instead of answering pleas for special sessions to try and stop Iran from massacring student protesters, China from arresting bloggers, or Cuba from beating dissidents, it will now convene to condemn the earth for quaking.”
“The session will neither feed nor heal a single Haitian victim. On the contrary, it will waste up to $200,000 in conference and translation costs that could have been used for vital aid.”
“The council is wasting its time on an issue that involves no violation, perpetrator or victim. It’s a political exercise by countries seeking to divert attention from the world’s worst abusers and to dilute the human rights agenda, supported by other diplomats who want to pretend the council is doing something.”
“The Council conducted an identical exercise last year, with an emergency session on the finanical crisis, and the year before that on the food crisis. Both were futile.”
“I regret that the United States and the European Union conceded to lend their names as co-sponsors to this equally futile exercise. They may have thought it harmless, but it only encourages further diversions and sends the wrong message.”
For more information on previous special sessions, see below.
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About Previous 12 UN Human Rights Council Special Sessions
Since its inception in June 2006, the UN Human Rights Council has held 10 special sessions dealing with countries, of which 6 have been devoted to condemning Israel, and 4 on the rest of the world combined. An additional two sessions were held on the world food and financial crises, both of which pointed an accusing finger at the West.
12th special session (October 2009): Condemned Israel for alleged violations (but failed to condemn Hamas), and adopted report of UN Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (“Goldstone Report”).
11th special session (May 2009): Praised Sri Lankan government (ignored killing of 20,000 civilians).
10th special session (February 2009): Financial crisis (blamed the West).
9th special session (January 2009): Condemned Israel for Gaza war (ignored Hamas terrorism).
8th special session (November 2008) DR Congo (failed to reinstate investigator eliminated by council earlier in the year).
7th special session (May 2008) Food crisis (blamed the West).
6th special session (January 2008): Condemned Israel for actions in Gaza (ignored Hamas terrorism).
5th special session (October 2007): Myanmar.
4th special session (December 2006) Darfur (praised Sudan for its “cooperation”).
3rd special session (November 2006): Condemned Israel for errant shell in Beit Hanoun (ignored Hamas terrorism).
2nd special session (August 2006): Condemned Israel for Lebanon war (ignored Hezbollah terrorism).
1st special session (July 2006): Condemned Israel for responding to Gilad Shalit capture (ignored Hamas terrorism).