UN Watch in Today’s Boston Globe

UN Watch in Today’s Boston Globe:
“UN Human Rights Council Turns Blind Eye to World’s Worst Abuses, Praises Perpetrators”

Today’s Boston Globe features a letter to the editor by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. Yesterday the same newspaper quoted UN Watch’s protest against Libya’s election to the UN Human Rights Council in an editorial urging the U.S. to “speak out, candidly and bluntly, against allowing the council to operate as a club of dictatorships.” See both below. Click here for additional clippings of UN Watch in the world’s major media.



Sri Lanka abuses

May 29, 2010

YOUR MAY 24 editorial “Probe war crimes in Sri Lanka’’ rightly calls for a credible inquiry into Sri Lanka’s role in the estimated 20,000 civilian deaths during last year’s fighting.

Blindly asking the UN to do the job, however, risks achieving the opposite of justice. That’s what the European Union and its allies discovered in May 2009, after they finally mustered one-third of the UN Human Rights Council’s 47 members to trigger an emergency session on Sri Lanka.

The council majority, composed of non-democracies such as China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, turned the proposed resolution upside down. The session ended by actually “commending’’ Sri Lanka for its “promotion and protection of all human rights.’’ Initial references to violations of human rights and international law, and their impact on women, children, and vulnerable groups, were deleted from the final text.

Sadly, the recent election of dictatorial Libya and slave-holding Mauritania will only aggravate the council’s policy of turning a blind eye to victims of the world’s worst abuses while praising the perpetrators.

Hillel C. Neuer,
Executive director, UN Watch Geneva



A rogues’ gallery at the UN

May 28, 2010

THE UNITED NATIONS General Assembly has never figured out a way to prevent human rights abusers from joining its human rights organizations, often to deflect criticism of their own conduct. In seeking a seat on the UN Human Rights Council last year, the Obama administration hoped to reform the council from within — unlike the Bush administration, which refused to join it when it was created in 2006. But the Obama team’s hope is a long way from fulfillment, as the General Assembly proved earlier this month when it voted overwhelmingly to give Libya a seat on the council.

The Human Rights Council took the place of the UN Commission on Human Rights. The old panel was notorious for including many of the world’s worst human rights violators. The resolution creating the new council specified that its members “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.’’

Those words hardly describe dictator Moammar Khadafy’s Libya — recently depicted by a coalition of 37 human rights groups as “one of the world’s most brutal and longest-running tyrannies.’’ Yet Libya was elected to the Human Rights Council with the support of 155 nations — 80 percent of the UN membership. Compounding the scandal, the General Assembly elected other nations with poor human rights records, including Angola, Qatar, and Mauritania, by even larger landslides.

Plainly, the Human Rights Council is no more credible as a human rights watchdog than the commission it replaced. If the Obama administration wants the council to change, the United States must start objecting vocally to the composition of the panel. US Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters earlier this month that the election of “a small number of countries whose human rights records is problematic’’ was regrettable. But when asked whether the administration shared human rights groups’ objection to Libya, Rice replied: “I’m not going to sit here and name names.’’

In fact, naming names is essential. The administration has proved its UN bona fides by joining the Human Rights Council and restoring US funding. But if it is serious about reform, it must also speak out, candidly and bluntly, against allowing the council to operate as a club of dictatorships.


UN Watch