Tuesday, February 22, 2011

UNHRC Used By Dictators To Undermine Human Rights

Hadar Sela
The Propagandist
21 February '11

The recent incidents on the streets of countries as far apart as Libya and Bahrain, Tunisia and Iran have riveted the Western world to its television sets and Twitter accounts. The sight of authoritarian regimes gunning down their own people as though they were swatting flies has us outraged. Western politicians and human rights activists issue sober statements. Western journalists devote indignant column inches to the question of ‘how could they?’ But one thing is conspicuous by its absence; any honest and thorough appraisal of how the West has been complicit for years in ensuring that such human rights abuses could come about.

To our disgrace, we in the West have largely stood by silently whilst the world’s premier human rights institution, the UN Human Rights Council, has been monopolised by nations which belong to the cadre of those today firing on their own civilians in the streets of Benghazi and Tehran.

The Human Rights Council currently includes members such as Libya, Bahrain, China, Jordan, Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that its resolution of establishment demands that “members elected to the council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”. Iran sits on the UN’s ‘Commission on the Status of Women’ along with Zimbabwe. Thus, it is hardly surprising that the UNHRC has been busier attempting to push resolutions on the subject of the ‘Defamation of Religion’ than it has in upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in some of its member countries.

The dysfunctional nature of the UNHRC is all too apparent when one considers that human rights in Darfur, Tibet, North Korea or Zimbabwe have never been discussed in that forum or that the best it could come up with regarding Sudan was an expression of “deep concern”. In fact, the only country to have ever been specifically condemned by the UNHRC is a multicultural democracy with equal rights for women, homosexuals, religious and ethnic minorities which has a free press and an independent judiciary system – Israel.

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