Why Irwin Cotler Said No to the Tutu Mission

In this Issue:

UN Rights Council to Absolve Cuba and Belarus; Israel Facing Permanent Indictment
Dictators Fidel Castro of Cuba and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus will be celebrating the UN Human Rights Council’s likely adoption tomorrow of a new reform package that will see both regimes dropped from a blacklist, while Israel is placed under permanent indictment.
Contrary to all the promises of reform issued last year, the proposal released today by Council President Luis Alfonso de Alba targets Israel for permanent indictment under a special agenda item: “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories ,” which includes “Human rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”; and “Right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.” No other situation in the world is singled out — not genocide in Sudan, not child slavery in China, nor the persecution of democracy dissidents in Egypt and elsewhere. Moreover, the council’s one-sided investigative mandate of “Israeli violations of international law” is the only one without a set term, to be renewed “until the end of the occupation.”
As the same time, the proposal eliminates the experts charged with reporting on violations by Cuba and Belarus, despite the latest reports of massive violations by both regimes. As for the experts on other countries — on Burundi, Cambodia, North Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Burma, Somalia and Sudan — all of these may soon be eliminated, as threatened by the council’s majority of dictatorships and other Third World countries, under a gradual “review” process. Pending their fate, all experts will be subjected to a new “Code of Conduct,” submitted by Algeria in the name of the African group, designed to intimidate and restrict the independence of the human rights experts.
The complete package is expected to be adopted by consensus tomorrow—unless the governments of Canada and other Western democracies uphold principle by opposing the entrenchment of bias as a permanent feature of the new council.  more

  UN’s Tutu Mission: Why Irwin Cotler Said No

On Wednesday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu reported to the Council this week on his inquiry into Israel’s “willful killing of civilians” in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, created in November 2006. What the Council did not expect, however, was the speech that followed. In a powerful address, Irwin Cotler — Canadian parliamentarian, former justice minister and UN Watch board member — made public for the first time that he had rejected the Council president’s offer to join the mission,a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland inquiry , where the conviction was secured and the sentence passed even before the inquiry began…”  See text and video


  Iran’s Racism Exposed in Plenary

On Monday, UN Watch addressed the Council to thank UN racism expert Doudou Diene for censuring Iran over its anti-Semitism and its hosting of anti-black racist David Duke : “When the Iranian leader addresses the General Assembly, he talks a lot about ‘human dignity’ and ‘justice.’ Yet in December, this same Assembly condemned Iran for treating its minorities with neither dignity nor justice…”  See text and video


  UN Watch Confronts Kaddafi’s Man at the UN

On Tuesday, UN Watch confronted Jean Ziegler , the virulently anti-Western UN official, in an address before the full plenary:”Mr. Ziegler, though your report cites the Libyan situation only in passing, you are uniquely positioned to protect these victims.  As you mentioned last year on Swiss TV, once or twice a year you are personally hosted by Colonel Khadaffi, the Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution, for what you described as ‘intellectual discussions.’ Also, your credibility on human rights issues with the Libyan government is unimpeachable, due to your status as original spokesman, jury member and 2002 laureate of the Muammar Kaddafi Prize for Human Rights …”  See text and video

  Also watched…

D   Libya Candidate to Head UN Anti-Racism Panel: The government of Libya was chosen for the 15-member governing bureau of a UN anti-racism conference to be held in Geneva later this month, and is a candidate to be its Chair. The Human Rights Council’s five regional groups also named Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia to the bureau of the conference charged with preparing a 2009 gathering that will follow up on the controversial Durban conference of 2001. Also declaring its candidacy for the Chair position is Armenia—hardly a paragon of virtue, except by comparison. Simply put, choosing Colonel Kaddafi to head a world anti-racism conference would be like appointing a pyromaniac to be town fire chief. How can a regime that consistently ranks as one of the most notorious violators of human rights—that sentenced to death five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor only because they were foreigners and therefore easy scapegoats—be charged with promoting fundamental principles of human dignity and equality?

C International Labor Organization Slams Iran, Myanmar, Venezuela:  The UN’s International Labor Organization slammed Iran for its oppression of union members. The ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association deplored Iran’s heavy penal sentences against trade unionist organizers of a 2004 rally and requested their immediate release. The Committee also questioned the arrest of leaders from the Teachers Guild Association, who were allegedly interrogated, threatened and harassed by the Intelligence Ministry. Separately, the ILO credentials committee also rebuked the government of Iran—as well as Venezuela and Burma (Myanmar)—for manipulating employer and employee associations in order to control their delegates.

UN Watch