GENEVA, January 27, 2010 — Today’s urgent meeting of the UN Human Rights Council regarding Haiti is “a harmful waste of the organization’s precious time, resources, and moral capital,” said a human rights watchdog group.
“Haiti is certainly a dire emergency, but this council, which is supposed to address human rights violations, has no budget, authority or expertise on humanitarian aid, and is clearly the wrong forum,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based monitoring organization.
According to UN estimates, a day of conference and translation services costs up to $200,000. “Instead of being used for today’s questionable exercise, that money should have gone to Haiti’s needy victims,” said Neuer.
“Unlike other UN bodies, the Human Rights Council has neither the power of the purse nor of the sword, only the power to turn a spotlight on the worst abusers,” said Neuer. “Tragically, however, the council has refused to hold special sessions to try and stop Iran from massacring student protesters, terrorists from killing civilians in Baghdad and Kabul, or China and Cuba from arresting bloggers, journalists and dissidents. Yet today it convenes — to do exactly what? Condemn the earth for quaking? It’s nonsensical.”
“Dominated by repressive regimes, the council is wasting its time on an issue that involves no violation or perpetrator. It’s a public relations exercise that diverts the Human Rights Council’s attention from examining genuine human rights abuses, and aids member states that want us to believe the council is nevertheless doing something.”
“The council was similarly misused last year with an urgent session on the financial crisis, and the year before that on the rise in food prices. Because it’s inherently the wrong forum, both meetings amounted to futile political exercises that produced nothing but paper.”
“I regret that the United States and the European Union have lent their names as co-sponsors to this equally futile exercise. It only takes the Council further away from its stated mission of protecting individual human rights, and sends the wrong message.”
The EU and other Western countries had previously demanded that all special sessions include a specific description of the human rights violations at issue (see par. 64 at p. 17 here). However, many co-sponsored today’s session despite the absence of any such description or violations.
The UN titled the meeting a “Special Session on Support to recovery process in Haiti: A Human Rights approach.”
For more information on previous special sessions, see below.
* * *
Background: Previous 12 UN Human Rights Council Special Sessions
From its inception in June 2006, the UN Human Rights Council has held 10 special sessions on countries, of which six were sponsored by Arab states and devoted to the one-sided condemnation of Israel, and four on the rest of the world combined. An additional two sessions were held on food and financial crises, both of which pointed an accusing finger at the West. Following is a summary.
- 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).