Ignoring abuses, U.N. rights council to meet on financial crisis

In the past year, the world witnessed Chinese killings in Tibet,  Russian brutality in Georgia, Sri Lankan bombings of civilians, radical Islamist terror in Mumbai, Kabul, Baghdad and Sderot, and other gross violations around the globe.

All of these have been sytematically ignored by the UN Human Rights Council, a body created in 2006 to replace its discredited predecessor. Despite waving the banner  of reform, the 47-nation council has devoted most of its time to condemning Israel while legitimizing Hamas and Hezbollah — in 21 of 26 country resolutions, and in 5 out of 9 emergency sessions.

But there is another way the Islamic-controlled council likes to divert attention from the world’s worst abusers and dilute the seriousness of the human rights agenda. It calls emergency sessions on issues having no clear violation, perpetrator or victim, and that are already dealt with by numerous other UN bodies.

This it did with an emergency “special 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. Now it is calling another useless meeting, for next Friday, February 20th, on the financial crisis — see below the resolution proposed for adoption.

If banking, motgages and stocks are human rights issue, what isn’t? If everything is a human right issue, nothing is. (Along the same lines, see this new UN report decrying extreme weather and dropping sea levels for violating the rights of peoples.)

To be fair, the political agenda here is a bit more than nothingness. Third World despots and desert dictators will surely point an accusing finger at the failures of the democ ratic West, reminding their subjects of the superiority of repressive regimes ruled by the likes of Qaddafi, Castro, and the Chinese Communist Party.


The UNHRC will be hold a special session on the “impact of the financial and economic crisis on the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights” on Friday, 20 February 2009. The proposed resolution: 

11 February 2009

The Impact of the Global Economic & Financial Crises on the Universal Realization and Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the principles and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

Guided also by the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights on 25 June 1993,

Acknowledging that peace and security, development and human rights are the pillars of the United Nations system,

Recalling General Assembly Resolution 601251 of April 3rd 2006, which affirms that the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue, and that the Human Rights Council should serve inter-alia as a forum for dialogue on thematic issues on all human rights, including existing or emerging issues with the purpose of identifying trends and promoting cooperation, (Resolution 60/251 Para 5(b))

Recalling also previous resolutions of the Human rights Council, of the Commission on Human rights, and the Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of human Rights on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, (pp3 of HRC resolution 4/1)

Reafirming the mandate of the Council for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including the right to development, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner,(Resolution 60/251 para 4 & Millennium Declaration para 24).

Stressing that the human person is the central subject of development, (Vienna declaration)

Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including its provision that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and his family, including food, the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition and the United Nations Millennium Declaration, in particular the first Millennium Development Goal of eradication hunger and extreme poverty by 2015, (para pp3 of the Resolution of Special Session on the Right to Food)

Committed to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including those entailed in the United Nations Millennium Declaration and in the outcomes documents of the major United Nations conferences and summits within their respective time frames, (WSSD Plan of Implementation slightly ammended)

Reafirming that developing countries, particularly for Africa and least developed countries, should be supported by the international community in order to succeed in their economic development, (Vienna Declaration)

Cognizant that as a result of globalization, domestic economies are now interwoven, and that good governance at the international level as well as effective, transparent and accountable financial, monetary and trading systems are essential pre-requisites for attaining sustainable development and fight poverty and fully realize human rights, (WSSD Declaration-Para. 13 with changes + Doha Declaration with changes).

Recalling that the existence of widespread extreme poverty inhibits the full and effective enjoyment of human rights; and that its immediate alleviation and eventual elimination must be a high priority for the international community at any time, (Vienna declaration, ammended)

Reafirming that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and that they must be treated globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis, (pp8 of the resolution of the special session on the food crisis)

Welcoming ongoing efforts, including by this Council, towards the realization of economic, social and cultural rights and encouraging additional efforts to ensure the realization of economic social and cultural rights and the removal of obstacles thereto at all levels, (pp4 in HRC Resolution 4/1)

Recognizing the serious concerns over the global economic and financial crises and their negative consequences on the development prospects of all countries, and that developing countries, in particular for Africa and least developed countries, are in a more vulnerable situation when it comes to facing the impacts of the global economic & financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment by their population of their human rights,

1. Expresses deep concern that the international community is now challenged by the severe impact on development of multiple, interrelated global crises and challenges, such as increased food insecurity, volatile energy and commodity prices, climate change, which have been exacerbated by the ongoing global economic & financial crises. (Par 3. Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: outcome document of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus modified;

2. Regrets that the global economic and financial crises have resulted in the decline in exports, foreign direct investment and remittances which contribute to the growth of economies of developing countries, and have led to the increase in unemployment worldwide;

3. Calls upon the international community to avoid and eventually alleviate the negative impacts of the global economic & financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment of human rights; through inter-alia a renewed commitment to undertake concrete concerted actions and measures at all levels to address these crises in an inclusive and development-oriented manner, and by ensuring the participation of developing countries in global decision-making, and enhancing international cooperation, with a view to safeguard the global progress achieved towards sustainable development. (WSSD Plan of Implementation Para 4 with changes+ WSIS declaration);

3. Calls on the international community, particularly on developed countries, bearing in mind the impact of the ongoing global economic and financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment of human rights, to resist the temptation to reduce official development assistance and to impose protectionist measures on the grounds of economic constraints resulting from the aforementioned crises;

4. Urges the donor community to maintain its commitment to redouble efforts to mobilize and sustain financial resources for development as well as to ensure that effective use of official development assistance is central to the global partnership for sustainable development, including by supporting the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and in accordance with the Monterey Consensus on Financing for Development;

5. Reaffms that international trade is an engine for development and sustained economic growth, and that a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system, as well as meaningful trade liberalization, can substantially stimulate development worldwide, benefiting all countries at all stages of development. In this context, we stress the need for an early conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda round of multilateral trade negotiations, so as to provide all countries, particularly developing countries with the necessary means to achieve the realization and effective enjoyment of all human rights, including in particular, economic, social and cultural rights;

6. Urges the international community to make concerted efforts to contribute to an early recovery and emphasizes the need for a comprehensive, coordinated and sustained response in the short, medium and long term;

7. Recognizes the importance of the reform of the international financial architecture and reiterates the call for an inclusive multilateral system of global economic governance;

8. Decides to examine the consequences of the global economic and financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment of human rights worldwide; and invites the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, building on the deliberations of this special session, to participate in the High level Conference due to take place in the General Assembly 1-4 June 2009 on the Global Economic & Financial Crises, and to present a contribution to this High Level event;

9. Requests all relevant thematic Special Rapporteurs to consider the impacts of the global economic and financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment of human rights within their respective mandates and to integrate their recommendations in this regard in their reports presented to the Human rights Council, with a particular emphasis on ways and means to ensure, in the context of these crises, respect for and protection of the human rights of the poor, particularly women, children, migrants, migrant workers and their families, and other marginalized groups, and to avoid the resurgence acts of racism and xenophobia and the promotion of greater harrnony and tolerance in all societies; (second half adapted from Millennium Declaration Para 25)

10. Invites the relevant treaty bodies of the International Human Rights Conventions, to take into account the impact of the global economic and financial crises on the realization and effective enjoyment of human rights within their respective spheres of competence, and to consider presenting recommendations on ways and means for all countries to guard against the negative effects of these crises at the national level and for enhancing international cooperation to address them at the international level;

11. Urges the international community to provide least developed countries with the necessary funds to fully implement their national strategies for the promotion and protection of human rights, without conditionalities;

12. Decides to follow-up on the implementation of the present resolution at its 12th session.

UN Watch