MARCH 7, 2010, 4:11 P.M. ET.
Friend and Faux on Human Rights
Iran bids to join the U.N.’s rights body.
Some of the world’s most courageous champions of human rights will convene today, Monday, March 8, in Geneva, seat of the United Nations’s Human Rights Council. But don’t expect the Council itself to welcome these distinguished visitors.
The Geneva Summit-organized by groups such as U.N. Watch and Freedom House, and chaired by Poland’s Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel-will bring together political dissidents from China, Iran and Burma, rights activists for the Tibetan and Uighur peoples, a survivor of the North Korean gulag, plus a former Sudanese slave named Simon Deng who plans to speak about “the gross human-rights abuses by radical jihadists and the Islamic government in Khartoum.”
As for the U.N. Council’s meeting, the main drama (apart from the ritual Israel-bashing) will be Iran’s bid to get elected later this spring as a member. Among its presumptive qualifications, says Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, is that last June’s elections were “an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom.” Other contenders vying for election include the Maldives, which bans the public practice of all religions save Sunni Islam; and Malaysia, whose judiciary is currently prosecuting opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on dubious charges of sodomy.
The U.S. also has a seat on the Council. A year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that by joining the Council-the Bush Administration had refused-the U.S. “will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system.” Whatever they’re doing, it doesn’t seem to be working.
In 1975, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote that it was time “that the American spokesman came to be feared in international forums for the truths he might tell.” In Geneva today, the real truth tellers will be meeting down the block from the Council’s chambers. It would be nice to see the U.S. ambassador show up.