Saturday, March 31, 2007

UNHRC Closes Out

The UN Human Rights Council has finished its session, culminating with its 9th (no joke) condemnation of Israel. No other country in the world has been condemned that often, because no other country has been condemned at all by the council. But check out the strong action they took on Darfur!:
The Council did address the ongoing crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, but it could only muster a meekly-worded resolution that failed to condemn, or even to cite, the Sudanese government or any other party to the conflict for abuses. The resolution merely 'express[ed] deep concern" about violations in Darfur without attributing them to anyone. Apparently, the human rights violations there are occurring all by themselves. An earlier European Union draft had the words "including attacks by rebel and government forces," but that reference was dropped to achieve consensus. The resolution also defers to Sudan by expressing regret that the Council's expert assessment mission, led by Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, "could not visit Darfur," obscuring that it was the Khartoum government that denied them entry.

The Williams assessment team, which went to Ethopia and the Chad/Darfur border, did present its report at this session. However, the Council, which is dominated by Sudan's allies in the African and Islamic groups, did not formally adopt the Williams report or call for the implementation of its numerous and specific recommendations, but rather simply "took note" of it. Instead, the Council established yet another expert group to "work with the government of Sudan" to promote the implementation of unspecified "relevant" UN recommendations on improving the situation in Darfur,"taking into account the needs of the Sudan in this regard," and to make yet another report to the Council at its next session.

That's the type of bold, decisive language we want when the subject is a half-decade of genocidal violence [/sarcasm].

Other highlights of the session include ending special oversight of the Iran and Uzbekistan human rights situations, increasing "geographic balance" in the hiring decisions of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (effectively meaning more employees from dictatorial regimes), and a resolution against "defamation of religion." The resolution, which only mentions Islam, was pushed through by an alliance of OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) states, as well as Russia, Cuba, China, and some African nations.

Islam is the only religion actually mentioned in the resolution. I would have loved to cross-examine some of the diplomats on that council, holding up a good fifty or so inflammatory anti-Semitic cartoons, statements, flyers, and textbook entries from around the Arab World (as well as the UN's own meetings) and ask if they counted as "religious defamation under the contours of this resolution."

Finally, following up on my last Why I hate the UNHRC post, UN Watch has posted a video of its speech to the council, the response, as well as a prequel detailing a variety of statements that were deemed quite "admissible."