Friday, August 11, 2006

Same Old Same Old

University of Missouri International Law scholar Peggy McGuinness has the latest episode in the farce that has become the UN Human Rights Council. Over the past 40 years, a full 30% of the HRC's resolutions were directed at Israel. Though this new body is supposedly "reformed," it remains depressingly similar to its precursor. Currently, it is holding an emergency session to debate this resolution, which condemns Israeli human rights violations while saying nary a word about Hezbollah aggression and its blatant, gleeful, and deliberate flouting of human rights norms. "Nary a word" is literal--read the resolution: it's entirely absent over 5 pages. Ironically, the resolution itself is violation of the commissions mandate, which forbids resolutions singling out a particular country.

So, why would the HRC break its own rules to single out Israel? I mean, if you're going to pick one issue that cries out for being called by name, I think the genocide in Sudan (remember that?) would come on top first (incidentally, Sudan is a co-sponsor of the HRC resolution). And if you're going to pick out this particular conflict, why wouldn't you mention Hezbollah human rights violations too? Some statements by the panel members might shed some light here:
Brazilian expert Jos Augusto Lindgren Alves accused Israel of "blatant racism," which, he added, was "at the root of its disproportionality" in Lebanon. He asked if Israel "would react the same way to exterminate an entire population if Hizbullah launched the same attacks from a non-Arab country." Jos Francisco Cali Tzay of Guatemala suggested that Israel's actions were close to "mass genocide." The South African, Patricia January-Bardhill, said that Israel's response reflected "institutionalized racism." Pakistani member Agha Shahi justified Hizbullah's attacks on Israel as an exercise of "the right of resistance against occupation." Aboul-Nasr similarly asserted that Hizbullah is not a terrorist group but "a resistance movement," like the French resistance in World War II.

So. They selected Israel because it is effectively committing genocide. And they don't condemn Hezbollah because it's a justified movement akin to resisting WWII Nazi occupation.

Ah, continuity.

Not to continue to harp on my Carleton Progressive editor, but he once challenged me when I said I didn't really give much credibility to UN pronouncements when it came to Israel. "Why, because they disagree with you?" Not quite.

Oh, and the resolution itself? It passed by a vote of 27-11-8. Countries voting nay were Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Holland, Poland, Japan, The Czech republic, Finland, Romania and Ukraine. Aye votes include Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and Mexico, as well as the Council's Arab and Muslim bloc.

I'll tell ya, nothing makes me want to give a mea culpa on a human rights more than when China lectures me on the error of my ways. 'Cause there's a country with street cred on the subject.


Anonymous said...

Judging from your sarcasm, you apparently disagree wholeheartedly with the resolution that passed. But aside from explaining the various points of views held by members of the HRC, you gave no indication as to why you think the resolution is illegitimate. I'd like to hear you speak directly to the quotes you provided.

David Schraub said...

I need to explain to you why the claim that Israel is committing acts tantamount to genocide is more than a little ridiculous? Gosh, the educational system is more trouble than I thought.

You want the full refute? Fine, let's roll.

a) To Mr. Alves and Ms. January-Bardhill: there's no reason to think that racism has any role in the decision to retaliate against an unprovoked attack. While there remains a tragic dearth of cases or opportunities for non-arab states to attack Israel and thus prove Mr. Alves wrong as to his "non-Arab country" hypothesis, Iran may be providing that opportunitiy shortly (though I'd take it as a kindness if they didn't).

b) Responding to both Alves and Mr. Tzay, there is no proof or even the slightest indication that Israel has any intent or has come any where near "exterminating" the Lebanese population, a particular Lebanese sub-population, or any other civilian population. "Genocide" has a very specific definition under international law, and when we define the term down we smear the memory of all those who perished in Darfur, in Rwanda, in Cambodia, and in Auschwitz.

c) To Messrs Shahi and Aboul-Nasr: Hezbollah isn't "resisting" anything, as the UN itself certified Israel had withdrawn from every inch of Lebanese territory as of 6 years ago. Attacking a country for no particular (legal) reason across an internationally recognized border is a flagarant violation of jus ad bellum and is in any case an offensive act of war. That's the precise opposite of "resistance" as the French did it. Moreover, deliberately targeting innocent civilians makes it difficult to claim the mantlepiece of having moral highground anyway. And finally, claiming to represent anti-Nazi resistence when you adhere to the trademark Nazi ideology of Jewish extermination (as Nasrallah does) is sick, sick irony.

d) Finally, the analysis I gave about the resolution being ridiculously one-sided; i.e., not saying anything about the numerous, purposeful, flagarant, appalling, and far more serious war crimes violations (which are in fact motivated by racism, as Nasrallah has specifically called for the death of every Jew on the planet), is reason alone to reject it (and stands in contrast to your claim that I gave no reason why the rez is bad). The resolution combines a massive overstatement of Israel's culpability with an absolute and telling silence as to Hezbollah's campaign of murder and terror. That's prima facia illegitimate.