The UN Human Rights Council concluded its September 2008 session by eliminating the investigative mandate on human rights abuses in Liberia, praising Sudan, and censuring Israel for the twentieth time in two years. Apart from condemning Israel, the council has criticized North Korea once, and Myanmar four times. The UN’s other 189 countries have avoided any condemnation. Click for chart of HRC resolutions
Despite Sudan‘s massive atrocities in Darfur, the resolution expressed only weak and indirect criticism of the Khartoum regime, and, in an unprecedented move, refused to extend the Sudan expert’s mandate for longer than six months. Instead, the text “acknowledges the steps taken by the Government of the Sudan to strengthen the human rights legal and institutional framework, principally in law reform.”
Egypt’s Hisham Badr, introducing the resolution for the African Group, celebrated the fact that the council took note of “Sudan’s progress on the ground.” Similarly, Sudan’s Omer Dahab Fadol Mohamed praised the resolution for having “reflected the fact that Sudan was in total cooperation with the Human Rights Council and had shown sufficient flexibility for the Human Rights Council to continue cooperation on the basis of a positive dialogue.” Sudan commended the efforts by the African Group, “that had fully understood the position of Sudan.”
The council, dominated by repressive regimes, voted 32 to 9 to censure Israel for errant shells that in November 2006 claimed Palestinian civilian lives in Beit Hanun, Gaza, without mentioning that the artillery was aimed at Hamas terrorists firing Kassam rockets at Israeli civilians in Sderot. The resolution, a repeat of several previous censures, was designed to keep the episode on the UN agenda in perpetuity. The 9 opposing votes were cast by Canada, European Union members, and Japan, with Switzerland, South Korea, Ukraine, Bosnia and Cameroon all refusing to give their support and abstaining. Click for voting sheet
Other items from the September session:
- Ukraine introduced but then withdrew a resolution commemorating “the victims of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine, an artificially created famine that took lives of millions of Ukrainians,” which was “caused by the cruel actions and policies of the totalitarian Stalinist regime.” Former Soviet-occupied states Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Poland and Moldova were co-sponsors of the aborted text, as for some reason was Monaco.
- The council renewed the mandate on Burundi for one year, but weakened its mandate on Cambodia by ending the expert’s former designation as a special envoy of the secretary-general, a title that gave access to higher levels of power.