PRESS RELEASE

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.

 

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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.

 

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