• Worst Abusers Win ‘Get-Out-of-Jail-Free’ Card: The UN council today refused to adopt a single resolution for victims of human rights abuses in more than 180 countries. The council failed to act even though it had in its hands ready-to-go resolutions—formally submitted last week by UN Watch’s summit of dissidents and 20 human rights groups—concerning gross and systematic violations committed by China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, all of whom happen to be council members, as well as by Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. With all the promised reforms of its 2006 facelift, the council remains, as Kofi Annan said of its predecessor, selective, politicized and a stain on the reputation of the UN itself.
• Castro’s Communist Cuba Takes the Lead: Three of today’s adopted resolutions were sponsored by Castro’s Communist Cuba. One requires the UN to hire professional staff according to “geographic balance” instead of merit. The US and EU said the move threatened basic standards of competence, qualifications and efficiency. Another Cuban-sponsored text promotes the doctrine of “cultural rights,” often used at the UN by many Islamic, Communist and African governments to evade respecting their citizens’ universal human rights, and to justify the killing of gays in Iran, the execution of Christians for blasphemy in Pakistan, and the jailing of dissidents in China, Cuba and Zimbabwe.
• Handful of Positive Resolutions: The council did manage to adopt a handful of welcome resolutions. As every year, pariah state North Korea was condemned, with only China, Russia and Cuba taking the floor to dissociate themselves from the consensus resolution. Thanks to vigorous US diplomacy, the investigator on Iran, who recently produced a strong report, was renewed for one year, and there was a much-belated resolution calling on Sri Lanka to provide accountability for its 2009 killing of an estimated 40,000 civilians in its war with the Tamils. For texts of all resolutions and voting results, click here.
Sadly, however, it was a telling comment on the grossly politicized nature of the council that the Iran resolution could only muster a plurality of 22 out of 47 votes, even though the text, in contrast with solid resolutions passed annually by the General Assembly, carefully held back from condemning or even naming a single human rights violation by the Tehran regime.
Similarly, the price of winning support for the Sri Lanka draft included the omission of any condemnation of the government for war crimes, or any reference to the Secretary-General’s strong UN report on the 2009 atrocities; and then, at the very last minute, the further watering-down of the text to give Sri Lanka a veto on whether the UN can provide it with so much as “advice” and “technical assistance.” Given the composition of the council, most agreed this was nevertheless the best that could be achieved, and marked an improvement from the council’s 2009 resolution that praised Sri Lanka for “promoting and protecting human rights.”
GENEVA, March 22 – The UN’s top human rights body condemned Israel today in five separate resolutions, the same amount devoted to the rest of the world combined. One farcical text, written by Syria, which is now slaughtering its own people, found Israel guilty of major violations in the Golan heights. Another created a “fact-finding mission” into the settlements, which, like the notorious Goldstone inquiry, is expected to generate a massive international legal, political and media campaign, deflecting attention from abuses committed by the resolution’s sponsors—the Arab and Islamic blocs including Iran, Syria and the Palestinians—and onto Israel. For more on today’s consequential vote, click here.
In the debate leading up to today’s assault on Israel, held under the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent agenda item on alleged Israeli violations, Iran, Syria, Sudan and other serial rights abusers accused Israel of violating international law and basic human rights. UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer took the floor to respond. Click for video.