Geneva, October 6, 2006 – In the final meeting of its second regular session, the UN Human Rights Council today is considering 45 proposed resolutions, said UN Watch, a non-governmental organization in Geneva that closely follows the Council’s proceedings. Only five, however, allege violations in specific countries—three against Israel, and one each on Sri Lanka and Sudan.
“Unfortunately, out of all the situations of serious human rights violations around the world, the Council will only address three at most,” said Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director. (For a list of compelling situations of human rights violations that UN Watch and a coalition of NGOs asked the Council to address, click here .)
Moreover, the difference in tone taken towards the three countries is striking, according to Mr. Neuer. There are three draft resolutions critical of Israel, all proposed by the Council’s Islamic group members, seeking to condemn Israel for long lists of various alleged “flagrant” human rights violations. (The drafts, certain to be adopted owing to the automatic Council majority for all Islamic group resolutions, allege violations relating to the Golan Heights, Palestinian territories, and settlements.)
By contrast, the draft on Sri Lanka is only three paragraphs long, and simply expresses “concern” at recent violence, urges “all parties” to respect human rights and humanitarian law, and “welcomes” the Government of Sri Lanka’s “constructive” conduct. “This soft and appeasing approach even extends to the grave situation in Darfur—which Secretary-General Annan again warned yesterday is nearing catastrophe,” said Neuer. There are two competing drafts on Darfur, one proposed by the European Union and one by the African group, but even the EU proposal is weaker than the faint “Technical Cooperation” resolution on Sudan adopted by the 2005 Commission on Human Rights. “The EU draft merely ‘notes with deep concern’ the serious situation in Darfur, and even ‘welcomes’ the Sudanese government’s ‘cooperation’ and urges the international community to give it financial support—yet that government continues to defy international law, block UN intervention, including by threatening violence against UN forces, and pillage, rape and kill with impunity,” said Neuer.
The Council, inaugurated in June, already has adopted three resolutions against Israel—a full 100 percent of its resolutions addressing specific country situations so far.
In addition, as it did in June, the Islamic group has presented a resolution protesting “defamation of religions,” but mentioning only Islam. Neuer said the text was one more in a series of UN resolutions in the past year that are thinly veiled references to outrage in the Muslim world over the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, and now the recent remarks by the Pope.
“These resolutions seek to equate freedom of speech and democracy with blasphemy,” said Neuer. “Middle Eastern governments are trying to feed the beast of extremism in the hope of sparing their regimes, but in fact they are stoking the flames of a fire they cannot control,” said Neuer. “More and more, the meetings of the UN Human Rights Council are becoming barely distinguishable from meetings of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.”