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The mislabeled "United Nations Human Rights Council"

Written by Vincent Gioia

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August 14, 2008
vincent.jpgBy Vincent Gioia
A recent report that the United Nations Human Rights Council has banned criticism of Islam and Shariah law prompted me to look into this nefarious group a bit more. Refusing to allow Islam to be criticized is to condone the stoning to death of women, beheading of men, and all the 6th century demands of Muslims in the name of Allah which remain tenets of Shariah law and Islamic tradition.

By the recent resolution preventing criticism of Islam, the United Nations is endorsing a worldview in which free and democratic countries are guilty of abusing human rights whereas its member countries, and other similar dictatorships, are not. Wags have suggested that perhaps we should rename the United Nations and call it the "Nations of Islam - United in Unique and Ineffable Perfection."
 
There is no evidence that the Council banned criticism of any other religion and certainly mocking and criticism of Christianity and Judaism abound without condemnation by the Council or any other institution, domestic or international. Since the United States pays the largest share to support the corrupt and ineffectual anti-American UN, we the taxpayers are also supporting its agency's Islamophile rulings.

As an indication of the Council's leanings, following publication of the Danish cartoons spoofing Islam, the Council passed a resolution in March 2007 that expressed "deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations" and urged states to "to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and their value systems and to complement legal systems with intellectual and moral strategies to combat religious hatred and intolerance."

The discredited United Nations Human Rights Council was established in 2006 to replace the discredited U.N. Commission on Human Rights. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has declared that the new body represents the "dawn of a new era" in promoting human rights in the United Nations. The General Assembly President Jan Eliasson, who was involved with the creation of the Council called it "a new beginning for the promotion and protection of human rights." Arbour also said that the council would be "principled, effective and fair." However after two years of existence the UN Human Rights council has proven to be a dangerous farce and tool of anti-American critics. To its credit the United States, along with three other countries voted against creation of the Council because of fears, proven to be correct, that the agency would be misused and be not only anti-American but anti-Israel as well.

Since replacement of the former commission, the Council has counted among its membership those stalwarts of freedom, democracy and examples of human decency such as Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. If the council did not focus on protecting Islam, condemning the United States for "human rights abuses" and criticizing Israel, it would have nothing to do since a majority of the Council's resolutions are concerned with Israel and the United States.

Ironically the United Nations Charter includes a pledge by member states "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women." Consistent with this promise international treaties, such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which the General Assembly passed in 1948, provide the standard by which the world should conform to affirm that there would be no human rights abuse in the world by members of the United Nations. These treaties are constantly and continually violated by the Arab world and other dictatorships that are members of the United Nations and of the Human Rights council.

Action by the Council's predecessor became so bad that even former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged, "We have reached a point at which the commission's declining credibility has cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole, and where piecemeal reforms will not be enough." Unfortunately the replacement has proven to be no improvement and merely continues its biased incompetent performance.

Although many real reforms were intended to be a part of the "reformation", the General Assembly rejected many of them as well as proposals designed to make sure that the council would not repeat the mistakes of the commission. For example, the U.S. wanted a much smaller body than the 53-member commission to enable it to act more easily; a high threshold for election to the council (a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly); and a prohibition on electing nations to the council that are under U.N. Security Council sanction for human rights abuses, all of which would be regarded as necessary and appropriate if the Council were to be truly reformed into a worth while agency. The result was the General Assembly produced a 47-member council that is only slightly smaller than the previous commission, approved a simple majority vote for election to the Council instead of a two-thirds requirement, and did not ban human rights violators from becoming members of the council. Furthermore, even the requirement for a majority vote was undermined by instituting a secret ballot voting process that shielded governments from accountability for their votes and enabled horse trading for approval votes to council membership.

Some of the world's worst human rights abusers regularly use their positions on the Council to block scrutiny of their own human rights abuses and to make specious attacks on other countries like The U.S. and Israel for political reasons because they speak and condemn their human rights violations. According to UN Watch, a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization that monitors the work of the Human Rights Council, "To date, there have been 12 country-specific HRC resolutions: nine censures of Israel and three non-condemnatory resolutions on Sudan." The prior commission had a better record; over a 40-year period, only 30 percent of its resolutions condemning specific states for human rights violations were directed at Israel.

It is also noteworthy that the council has not adopted a single resolution or decision condemning human rights abuses in 19 of the 20 "worst of the worst" repressive human rights situations as identified by Freedom House in 2007. These 19 countries where abuse is rampant are Belarus, Burma, China, Tibet (China), Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Laos, Libya, Western Sahara (Morocco), North Korea, Chechnya (Russia), Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe.

The UN Ambassador at the time of the Council's creation, John Bolton, said the United States could not agree with the resolution forming the Council because "We did not have sufficient confidence in this text to be able to say that the HRC would be better than its predecessor." Well-known human rights abusers Burma, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe voted in favor of the new council and many ultimately became Council members. Ambassador Bolton noted, "The real test will be the quality of membership that emerges on this council and whether it takes effective action to address serious human rights abuse cases like Sudan, Cuba, Iran, Zimbabwe, Belarus, and Burma." The council has obviously failed on both counts.

Vincent Gioia is a retired patent attorney living in Palm Desert, California. His articles may be read at www.vincentgioia.com and he may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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