Issue 106: The Chairperson of the Sub-Commission

The Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights began its three-week session on July 28.  Bertrand Ramcharan, Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, described the Sub-Commission in his opening statement as “the organ of the human rights programme called upon to research, reflect, and recommend – to think through the paths to universal human rights protection in the future.”  So, what are they thinking?

Analysis: The Sub-Commission is a subsidiary body of the dysfunctional Commission on Human Rights (CHR).  Unlike the CHR, the Sub-Commission is composed of 26 experts from various regions of the world, acting in their personal capacity, not on behalf of states.  This arrangement usually averts the politicization that plagues the CHR.  Not this year.  The chairperson, Ms. Halima Warzazi of Morocco, opened the session by condemning the “apocalypse” inflicted on the Iraqi people … by the United States.

She told her fellow experts: “the meeting was being held today under dark clouds which seriously threatened the human rights for which the Sub-Commission had worked for hard, with such commitment and devotion. Today, as a defender of human rights, the Sub-Commission was in a particularly worrying situation, ever since April 2003, when all had been witness to a terrible drama played out on the television screens which showed the apocalypse that had fallen on an entire people.”

The chairperson of the UN’s human rights “think tank” considers the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime a human rights violation, not a human rights victory.  How else can we judge her statement that the human rights situation in Iraq became “particularly worrying” as of April 2003, except to conclude that the rights of Iraqis were better protected under Saddam & Sons?  One person made the same argument during the Commission on Human Rights – the Iraqi ambassador.

Like night follows day, a tirade against Israel followed her condemnation of the US.  According to Ms. Warzazi, Israel “sowed death, massive destruction, terror, despair, and perpetuated persecution and torture.”  Though inappropriate for Israel, ironically it’s not a bad description of Saddam’s 23-year reign of terror about which Ms. Warzazi seems so ill-informed.

Making these comments, the chairperson disregarded the Commission’s instruction to the Sub-Commission not to discuss specific countries.  Other members clearly chafed under this restriction too.  Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, a Brazilian expert, asked, “What was next? Would the Sub-Commission study human rights violations on the moon?”

Given her assessment of events on this planet, we encourage Ms. Warzazi to concentrate on this novel topic.