At the initiative of the Cuban government, the UN Human Rights Council will convene on May 23, 2008 for an emergency “special session” to address rising food prices. Several EU states also added their names to the Cuban request.

The world food crisis is certainly an urgent issue, but few expect this meeting to achieve anything other than provide a platform for attacks against the West and free markets. All of which will distract the council from matters it could more suitably address, starting with violations that have a clear victim, perpetrator and remedy. But the countries that lock people up without fair trials prefer to change the subject.

And if “the right to food” were really their concern, why are council members failing to hold an emergency session on Myanmar’s unconscionable denial of that right for millions of its starving, post-cyclone citizens?

When this question was posed yesterday to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the reply was that “the Council had a very full programme. . .so it was a pretty packed schedule at the moment and it would be difficult to fit it in.”

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