The 57th Commission on Human Rights is currently taking place in Geneva, with its traditional disproportionate focus on the Middle East conflict even more accentuated than usual.
Analysis: High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson says of the Commission that “it is meant to embody the conscience of humanity for a world of peace and development grounded in respect for human rights.” Pretty words, but often far-removed from reality.
A forum which tantalizingly holds the potential to serve as a universal good, the Commission is one of the most politicized events on the UN calendar. Though it draws a wide variety of speakers and demonstrators, the activity on the floor returns time and time again to endless condemnations of one state -Israel – with little or no interest in evaluating the particularities of the conflict as a whole.
Israel has a full and permanent agenda item devoted to it, while the entire remainder of the world has another. While other global conflicts are examined with meticulous attention paid to intricate details – so as not to accuse a UN Member State wrongly – the factually incorrect rhetoric, and lack of any attempt at objectivity on the part of many Commission members, observers, and especially non-governmental organizations, casts an immense amount of doubt on the exercise.
It should be self-evident that countries openly sworn to the destruction of a fellow UN Member State cannot, realistically, be expected to judge that state fairly. And yet, Syria is a full Member of the Commission, and Libya is even a Vice-Chair. Non-governmental organizations, meanwhile, often unconcerned by any other global conflict, line up to echo each other’s condemnations of only Israel (ignoring all events leading up to the current violence, as well as Palestinian abuses).
They almost never voice support for the peace process.
Meanwhile, massacres, ethnic cleansing, religious persecution and other appalling crimes rage on across the globe. To name but one chilling example, more than 16,000 people, including myriad women and children, have been killed in cold blood since 1992 by Islamic fundamentalists in Algeria. Each day brings new reports of gruesome atrocities.
As far as the Commission is concerned, a situation like this one may as well not exist.