Monday, March 06, 2006

Annan’s Latest Project: A Counter-productive Facelift of the UN Human Rights Commission

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is currently urging the adoption of a text transforming the Human Rights Commission into a Human Rights Council.

In an excellent analysis, Anne Bayefski, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, explains why this project would be “an enormous step backward for the international protection of human rights and the spread of democratic governance”. As she explained, not only the project would fail to address the heart of the problem with the commission, which is its membership, but it would even worsen it.

Here are some the excerpts:
“Current members include some of the world's worst human-rights violators: China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Throughout the months of negotiations over a new entity, such states vehemently opposed efforts to introduce criteria for membership on the council. They succeeded. Not one criterion is included. Instead, the draft merely suggests 'when electing members' a state's human-rights record be 'taken into account.' Even states under Security Council sanction for human-rights violations (although this includes, at the moment, only Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire) would not be excluded automatically…

There is a provision for suspending a Council member that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights. But the step can only be taken with the agreement of two thirds of the members of the General Assembly. Fifty percent of the General Assembly could not even agree that Sudan was guilty of human-rights violations in November of 2005…

Special sessions of the commission can be called by just one third of the council's membership. Although this feature has been hailed as an improved capacity to deal with urgent human rights situations, the membership of the new council will make it more likely that special sessions will be about the United States and Israel rather than China or Sudan…

The proposal significantly shifts the balance of power away from the Western regional group, including the United States. The African and Asian regional groups will hold 55 percent of the votes. The proportional representation of the Asian group will represent the greatest increase and the representation of the Western group the greatest decline….

There is no doubt the United States would be the biggest single loser from the creation of this body. But more generally, U.S. support is unwarranted because the name change from Commission to Council will erroneously suggest renewed credibility in the absence of real reform.”

When will the UN finally fulfill its mission and provide the help the world so desperately needs? How long will our democracies accept that such an important world body and such a critical human rights commission be blackmailed and led by ruthless dictatorships? In the meantime, millions of people are displaced and killed in countries such as Sudan, and the UN remains silent…

Finally and on the topic of Kofi Annan and his biased leadership, I remain puzzled that nobody complained about the fact that Annan received the half-million dollars Zayed International Prize for the Environment a few weeks ago. While he announced that he would use the money to fund a foundation for agriculture and women's education in Africa, it’s still abnormal that a leader of the UN body would be allowed to receive a monetary prize and on top of that from the UAE, a country blatantly violating Human Rights.

As reported by Anti-Slavery, , “Children continue to be trafficked from countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen to be used as camel jockeys in the UAE. The use of children as jockeys in camel racing is itself extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury and even death. Some children are also abused by traffickers and their employers (e.g. depriving them of food and beating them). The children's separation from their families and their transportation to a country where the people, culture and usually the language are completely unknown to them, leaves them dependent on their employers and de facto forced labourers.” “The trafficking of children for use as camel jockeys is prohibited by ILO Conventions 29, 138 and 182 and by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - all of which have been ratified by the UAE.”

1 Comments:

At Thu Mar 09, 06:10:00 AM PST, Blogger Nightcrawler said...

Allowing the corrupt leader of a corrupt organization to root out corruption and put an end to it...

Yeah, that'll work!

 

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