Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The good old UN. Such a reasonable and rational and equitable bastion of nuance and understanding. Especially the Human Rights Commission. Today they voted on four resolutions denouncing Israel. How many dealt with North Korean Gulags? Cuban suppression and summary executions? Hugo Chavez's abrogation of Venezuela's Constitution? Sudanese slavery? Algerian genocide? Palestinian repression of dissidents and the terrorist attacks against Israel? Saudi religious intolerance? Zimbabwe's ethnic cleansing and political murders? Maybe they discussed a resolution or two concerning the lack of human rights in the home country of the Commission's preident, Libya?

Some of the Resolutions were so one sided that even Canada voted against them. In true spineless fashion the Europeans managed to abstain from votes that were egregiously anti-Israel.

By a 50-1 vote, the commission passed a resolution put forward by European countries voicing "grave concern" because Israel has not halted settlements of Palestinian territory. It criticized restrictions on the movements of Palestinians and a barrier Israel is building to separate it from the Palestinian territories.

Australia and Costa Rica abstained from voting.

A tougher, seven-page resolution sponsored by African and Arab nations criticized "the gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law" in Israel.

It accused the country of collective punishments, arbitrary detentions, attacks on Palestinian residential areas and "the killing of men, women and children there."

It also condemned "acts of mass killing perpetrated by the Israeli occupying authorities against the Palestinian people."

That resolution passed 33-5, with Canada, Australia, Germany and Peru joining the United States in opposition. There were 15 abstentions, mainly European nations.

U.S. delegate Michael Southwick said the resolution did not reflect Israel's fight against Palestinian suicide bombers and terrorism against innocent Israelis.

"Israel is not responsible for all the ills plaguing the people in the region. Israel has the right to self-defense," Southwick said.

Canadian Ambassador Christopher Westdal said the language of the second text was "unacceptable and often inflammatory."

A third resolution affirmed the "inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to establish their sovereign and independent Palestinian State." It passed 51-1.

A final resolution called on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast War and annexed in 1981. That passed 31-1, with 21 abstentions.

Here are some of the other votes taken.

In a resolution on Western Sahara, the Commission reiterated its support for the organization and supervision by the UN, in cooperation with the African Union, of a referendum for self-determination that was “impartial and free of all constraints.” It also called on the parties to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to solve the issue of people unaccounted for and to abide by their obligation to release without further delay all those held since the start of the conflict.

The resolution on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was adopted by a roll-call vote of 37 in favour and 9 against, with 7 abstentions. It reaffirmed that the use of mercenaries violated the principles of the UN Charter and urged all states to take the necessary steps and to exercise the utmost vigilance against the menace posed by the activities of mercenaries.

In a resolution titled "combating defamation of religion" adopted by a roll-call vote of 32 in favour, 14 against and 7 abstentions, the Commission expressed deep concern at negative stereotyping of religions and manifestations of intolerance and discrimination in matters of religion or belief still in evidence in some regions. It voiced deep concern that Islam was frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism and noted with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001.

No singling out of nations. And a worry that Islam was being associated with terrorism. Funny that, they seem to have no problem equating Judaism with racism and genocide. We have numerous statements from national leaders of countries in the Commission that do this on a regular basis, yet they could not specifically point to any single statement by a Western leader that equates Islam with human rights violations or terroism.

It is time to end this farce. These self-impotants petty dictators do not deserve an equal voice in the discussion on human rights, religious tolerance and representative government. To pretend otherwise is to completely ignore reality and the truth on the ground. After more than half a century, pretending that talk and resolutions from the UNHRC will change murderous dictators and give power to the oppressed is nothing but willful ignorance.

< email | 4/15/2003 12:26:00 PM | link

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