Prediction: when Olivier de Schutter, who holds the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Cuban-sponsored mandate on the “right to food,” delivers next week’s 2012 King & Wood Mallesons Annual Lecture at Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, he will (1) tell students how terrible food security is in Australia; (2) remain silent on those starving Syria; (3) say nothing of the 3.5 million facing malnutrition in Mali.
Here is what the smart students of Monash should ask Mr. De Schutter:
1. Despite dire food emergencies around the globe, why did he just spend 11 days investigatng the food situation in Canada—a country that ranks at the bottom of global hunger concerns? Surely the scarce time and resources of the international community could have been more effectively allocated to help those who are truly starving. All of his explanations defy basic common sense.
2. Why is Mr. De Schutter now attempting to launch an investigation of the United States? Human rights should not be exploited by an extreme political agenda that seeks to blame the West for all of the world’s ills. When the U.N. General Assembly was headed by former Sandinista ideologue Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann—the one who called America a “monster,” and who hugged Ahmadinejad after the latter’s hateful U.N. rant against America and Israel—De Schutter, together with Noam Chomsky, were named his top advisers.
3. Why does De Schutter refuse to say anything for the people of Syria? On May 4th, I asked his Geneva spokesperson, Ms. Yoonie Kim, what De Schutter planned to say about the genuine hunger crisis facing 500,000 people in Syria. She replied that De Schutter had no plans to say anything at all about Syria. This, she explained, was because he had “no first-hand knowledge of the situation,” and because other UN officials were “already dealing with it.” Yet neither of these supposed obstacles ever prevented De Schutter from opining sharply on all manner of other situations around the globe.
4. What credibility does De Schutter have when the chief sponsor of his mandate is the Communist police state of Cuba, a country where women have been documented as resorting to prostitution for food? De Schutter’s various websites mention nowhere that Havana’s government created his post, nor that the co-sponsors included China, North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe, all of whom were seeking a political weapon to attack the West.
5. Why does De Schutter continue to praise his U.N. predecessor, Jean Ziegler, the co-founder of the Muammar Gaddafi Human Rights Prize?
6. Why does De Schutter suggest that he speaks for the U.N., when in fact many serious hunger experts within the U.N. system completely reject his ideologically extreme policy prescriptions? As noted by World Trade Organization chief Pascal Lamy, U.N. experts fundamentally disagree with De Schutter’s assertion that countries need to limit reliance on international trade to achieve food security objectives. Similarly, Wikileaks revealed that the World Food Program in 2002 privately informed Kofi Annan that De Schutter’s predecessor engaged in “profoundly immoral” politics which harms millions of starving people. Click here for more.
7. Even when De Schutter does visit legitimate countries of concern, why does he repeatedly reach the wrong conclusions? De Schutter did once go to Syria—in 2010, long before the current crisis. His report mentioned several problems, but took pains to repeatedly praise the Assad regime. De Schutter actually went at the invitation of the Assad regime. Likewise, the Communist regime of China also ran after De Schutter. These regimes never seek out independent investigations. Why the exception for De Schutter? During his visit, De Schutter held out Syria’s Assad regime as a model. He praised the Assad regime for its “very high, excellent” level of cooperation and “openness.” He said it was “extremely encouraging, the sign Syria is giving by being so open and transparent in its co-operation with the human-rights council.” Click here for more.
8. Why does he misuse his sacred mandate on hunger as a global platform to attack his political targets on unrelated subjects? Like his predecessor Jean Ziegler, De Schutter has repeatedly made one-sided attacks on Israel lacking any nexus to his mandate. Last July, he issued a pre-emptive attack against his own boss, in a press release titled “UN Special Rapporteur opposes Ban Ki-Moon’s conclusions on flotilla.” De Schutter was outraged that a panel appointed by the UN chief found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza, to stop Hamas importing Iranian missiles, was actually legal—contradicting what De Schutter’s human rights council had said the year before.