Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Human 'wrongs'!

Here’s a shock.

China, Pakistan and Cuba have just been elected members of the new UN Human Rights Council. And ho ho ho, China actually won more votes than Finland, the Netherlands and Canada!

So what’s the job description?

[…]They should demonstrate leadership in cooperating with the Council, abiding by the provision of the resolution, which called for a periodic review mechanism. The Group was convinced that the Council would not be a “case of old wine in a new bottle”, but would fulfil the aspirations of the international community.

By virtue of Resolution 60/251, members of the Council are voted into office by an absolute majority of the General Assembly. One consolation is that a member can has its membership suspended is it commits “commits gross and systematic violations of human rights”.
I wonder whether the political and religious prosecutions in the likes of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, all of which have not ratified certain key human rights treaties, can be seen as “gross and systematic”. Are these UN-politicians blind?

This is what the China’s representative had to say about his own country:

The Chinese Government has always attached great importance to the issue of human rights. While enhancing and protecting the human rights of its own people, China has taken an active part in and supported international human rights cooperation and dialogue. We are in favour of a greater United Nations role in the field of human rights.[...]

I can almost hear the laughter echo in the empty halls of the UN building after these words were said. Human Rights Watch has a website through which has extensively monitored the election procedure, containing pledges, statements and human rights record of the candidate countries.

The US, being the world’s ‘harbinger’ and ‘defender’ of justice and freedoms, is of course not too pleased. For an organisation that has a poor reputation for being subject to corruption, political intrigue and shady back-scratching, this does not bode well in its attempts to reform.

Now if this is not a “truly historic occasion”, I don’t know what is.

UPDATE 21 May 2006

Is there a trend going on? Russia has just become the president of the Council of Europe--the organisation responsible for overseeing the protection and proliferation of democratic freedoms all over the continent. Again, a country not exactly wellknown for its democratic credentials is heading yet another international body, and thereby damaging its image. In-credible.

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