Issue 21: Amnesty International’s report to the upcoming UN Commission on Human Rights

Amnesty International’s report to the upcoming UN Commission on Human Rights calls on the Commission to give priority attention to countries where human rights abuses are “grave, persistent and/or widespread.” The targeted countries are Algeria, Burundi, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Turkey and the United States.

Analysis: UN Watch consistently maintains that no UN Member State is exempt from a critical evaluation of its human rights record, and the work of NGOs such as Amnesty International deserves credit for bringing abuses to light, serving as the reporter of man’s inhumanity to man.

Amnesty International’s claims against the US do a disservice to that NGO’s reputation. Do the human rights violations of the US really reflect a systematic, unlawful policy of abuse? Is it appropriate to characterize US violations in the same context as the most heinous abusers of human rights?

Amnesty International’s report condemns the US for its use of the death penalty, detaining asylum seekers in jails with criminals, and so forth. The report lists three pages of alleged US violations, while China and Saudi Arabia – not listed among this year’s priority concerns – have their crimes set out on one page each.

It is disingenuous to examine the US with the likes of Rwanda or Algeria. No comparison exists between states shrouded in genocidal hatred or sanctioned extra-judicial killings, and the US where the rule of law is firmly embedded and where an active human rights community operates at every level of the political structure.

Amnesty International’s description of the US as a gross violator of human rights is very much in conflict with reality; every year, countless refugees and immigrants fleeing human rights abuses around the world seek haven in the US, and in so doing, undermine Amnesty International’s claims.

To charge that US violations of human rights are “grave, persistent and/or widespread,” the international yardstick reserved for the worst of the world’s human rights violators, is unwarranted, and risks degrading the term itself. We hope that this year’s UN Commission on Human Rights will not allow that to happen.

UN Watch