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Post by Katmandu on Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:27 am

NGO: UNHRC gives impunity to violators

By E.B. SOLOMONT, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT

26/02/2010

Council ignored China, Cuba, Libya, & N. Korea, while slamming Israel 27 times

WASHINGTON – In the past year, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution praising Sri Lanka, took no action on Iran and passed 18 resolutions counterproductive to human rights, a report by the watchdog group UN Watch has charged.

Envisioning a more robust role for the United States, which joined the council last year, the Geneva-based NGO analyzed 30 key resolutions and found that only 13 of 47 council members voted “positively,” that is for resolutions advancing human rights. At the same time, the report alleged, the council ignored 18 of the worst violators, including China, Cuba, Libya and North Korea, and it slammed Israel with 27 out of 33 of its country-specific resolutions.

The report also found that more than half of current members – 24 out of 47 – fail to meet basic standards of democracy, according to the Freedom House annual survey.

“The UN’s main human rights body has turned into the world’s leading sponsor of impunity for gross abuses worldwide,” said Hillel Neuer, UN Watch’s executive director, visiting Washington to present the group’s 2010 scorecard and report. On Wednesday, he joined New York Congressman Eliot Engel and Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen at a Capitol Hill briefing in which he urged the US to hold the Human Rights Council more accountable.

The UN Watch document mentioned the Goldstone Report, since the Gaza fact-finding mission was mandated by the council, but did not focus on it.

“It very much fits into a pattern and practice,” Neuer said. He said members of the fact-finding mission – including Christine Chikin and Desmond Travers – made public statements about Israel’s culpability before their investigation began. “The council knew what it was getting” and was committed to a “preconceived outcome,” Neuer said.

With the council set to open its 13th session on March 1, Neuer envisioned a role for the US in which it would “speak out” against impunity. For example, Iran is vying for a seat on the council. “There is great concern that in the upcoming elections in May, Iran is a candidate,” Neuer said.

The UN Watch report also describes the council’s inaction regarding 12 examples of gross human rights violations. They include a lack of council action on media censorship in Belarus, extrajudicial killings and forced labor in Myanmar and longstanding censorship in China. The council took no action when it came to Iran, where the June 2009 election prompted widespread protests and arrests, including reports of point-blank shootings, prison abuse and rape.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen in the last decade and longer is the politicization of the Commission on Human Rights and now [its replacement], the Human Rights Council,” UN Watch chairman Alfred Moses, a former ambassador to Romania in the Clinton administration, told reporters on Tuesday.

Based on 30 council votes in the past year, UN Watch scored each member state’s position, awarding one point for voting positively and subtracting a point for a “negative” vote, or a vote counterproductive to human rights.

Thirteen of the 47 countries scored positively, which Neuer called “the reality of the council today.”

Canada came out on top, with 23 points, followed by Germany, Italy and the Netherlands with 18.

On the negative side, 34 countries cast ballots in support of repressive regimes. Egypt and China scored the worst, at -20, edging out other offenders – Cuba, Djibouti, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar and South Africa – which earned -19 points. Saudi Arabia and Russia each scored -18, while Jordan came out with -16. The United States was not ranked because it only joined the council last June.

South Africa scored poorly because it votes with old regional blocs, Neuer said.

The UN Watch report outlined concrete steps for the US to take to hold the worst violators accountable, including taking the council floor more often with resolutions and denunciations. The US should demand accountability, introduce country-specific resolutions, convene special sessions to address gross human rights violations, and oppose impractical sessions, the report recommends.

Regarding Israel, the US should work to strike down the council’s Agenda Item No. 7, adopted in 2007 over the objections of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the EU and Canada, which permanently singles out Israel at every council session.

As for 27 of the 33 country-specific resolutions singling out Israel, “This is unacceptable,” Neuer said, adding that both Israel and the Palestinians should be held accountable for their human rights records in a “fair and balanced” manner.

But in devoting 80 percent of country-specific resolutions to criticize Israel, the council has ignored “real human rights abuses” committed by Cuba, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, said Ros-Lehtinen. “The UN’s so-called ‘Human Rights Council’ has descended into a swamp of anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-freedom bias.”

Katmandu

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Post by BubbleBliss on Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:30 am

I think the UN has a lot of work to do. Only when a great deal of UN member states are actually developed and have a solid infrastructure can the UN do what it's supposed to do. With all these poor and underdeveloped, powerless countries in the council, the US is just a bunch of paper beaters, nothing more.
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Post by TexasBlue on Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:46 am

Member states are extremely biased towards Israel while, as the article states, they ignore worse human rights abuses/violations.

Till the UN fixes this, they're irrelevant, imo.
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Post by BubbleBliss on Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:49 pm

True. I think this is partially because the UN created Israel, at least the key members back then did.

If you're gonna have Human Rights laws, you should treat everybody equally.
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Post by TexasBlue on Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:59 pm

I think it's partly anti-semitism. Just my opinion. They lay all kinds of charges against that country yet let most Arab countries slide on many issues.... human right being a big one.
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Post by BubbleBliss on Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:05 pm

Well you've gotta be careful though. Israel is a country whereas Hezbollah or Hamas aren't. The UN has condemned both groups but since they don't have a government, nothing can be done about them except for military intervention.
Iran has also been condemned for their Human Rights abuses. As has Yemen, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cuba, N. Korea, etc.
It's just that a lot of these countries can only be punished by military intervention since they don't rely on imports as Israel or Iran do.
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Post by TexasBlue on Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:00 pm

The UN has failed to investigate Palestinian actions supporting terrorism. The UN has tolerated and fostered anti-Semitism and anti-Israel propaganda. The UN Human Rights Commission promotes anti-Israel, anti-Semitic resolutions. The US was kicked off the UN Commission for Human Rights in May 2001, despite being one of the most outspoken advocates for human rights and a founding member of the Commission. It was replaced by Sierra Leone and the Sudan, both of which have records of abuses of human rights, including slavery and the forced use of children as soldiers. That enuff?
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Post by BubbleBliss on Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:56 pm

Palestine isn't a country like Israel though. The UN is a big supporter of Israel, that's why it's cracking down on these abuses. If the UN is supporting Israel, Israel needs to follow UN laws. That should go for every country, but especially one that is backed as heavily by the UN as Israel is.

Yeah, the US was an advocate, but its seats were replaced by France, Austria and Sweden. The US was voted off, just like any other nation could be voted off.
The US had just not done as much as other nations for the sake of Human Rights. For example: "Washington should have seen it coming because there has been a growing resentment towards the United States and ... votes on key human-rights standards, including opposition to a treaty to abolish land mines and to the International Criminal Court and making AIDS drugs available to everyone."
Every year, 1/3 of the members come up for re-election and it was just the US' turn to go...
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