Monday, March 12, 2007

UNHRC: Lost Cause?

After reading yet another article detailing how the UN Human Rights Council's single-minded focus on Israel to the expense of any other human rights issue in the world, Julien Ku asks if it is time to abandon the idea of a UN human rights body altogether, at least for the near term.
Rather than whining about the U.N., etc., a more interesting question whether there could ever be a Human Rights Council with a broad-based membership that achieves fundamental agreement on the applicability of universal human rights norms. The consistent failure of this or any HRC to achieve broad consensus is not necessarily the result of political machinations by "bad" countries. Rather, it may reflect the more unsettling reality that there is no serious or broad consensus on what those norms are, despite lots of claims contained in human rights treaties to the contrary.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Cassidy has an interesting post noting how the structural aspects of the new UNHRC give disproportionate power to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), virtually none of whom are "free" countries, and who have used their influence to dictate the council's aggressively anti-Israel stance. In 2006, the OIC managed to pass eight resolutions condemning Israeli human rights violations (without mentioning any abuses committed by the other side). No other country was singled out for critique even once. The European members of the council did manage to push through two resolutions on Darfur, but in order to get OIC approval they had to be watered down so much they actually lauded Khartoum for its "cooperation." Gag.

The problem with the UN in general, and the UNHRC in particular, is that it is dominated by unfree nations who have no interest in protecting human rights, and a very big interest in distracted global attention from their own internal failings by finding convienant external scape-goats (who, in what must be some incredible historical coincidence, happen to be Jews!). That this does not yield particular progressive results on a regular basis really cannot surprise us anymore.

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