November 14, 2012

Human Rights and Abuse at the UN

Last September, Sudan withdrew its candidacy to join the Human Rights Council (HRC) that already included systematic abusers of human rights like China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania, where up to 800,000 people in a nation of 3.5 million live as chattel. Perhaps the withdrawal occurred as a consequence of the indictment of its presidentOmar Al-Bashir, by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes and and crimes against humanity.

Then again, no worries, Mr. President! By a vote of 176 of 193 member states, Sudan was just elected to the 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). ECOSOC is the main UN body for addressing matters related to “promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.” This includes making resolutions, recommendations and drafting conventions.

Al-Bashir's regime will now, among other things, help to select members of the Commission on the Status of Women, the executive board of UN Women, and UNICEF. Since ECOSOC accredits and oversees human rights groups at the UN, Sudan will also help decide which groups may participate at the HRC. The Committee on NGOs, comprised of 19 ECOSOC states, has often led to the rejection or expulsion of human rights groups that dare criticize repressive member states.

In 2004, the US Ambassador walked out of ECOSOC after Sudan was elected. The Obama Administration has since claimed to be "working overtime to keep the worst offenders off UN bodies," and would:
"assert a common-sense principle across the UN: if a member state is under Security Council sanction for weapons proliferation or massive human-rights abuses, it should be barred, plain and simple, from leadership roles.... [W]e are fighting, quite simply, to ensure that member states’ actions at the UN match up to the UN’s."
So what has been heard from the US, not to mention the European Union, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, or human rights commissioner Navi Pillay? According to Hillel Neuer of UN Watch, not much of a whimper.  
"On the same day we hear that Sudan is killing babies and burning homes in Darfur -- precisely the kind of dire situation ECOSOC should be urgently addressing -- the UN has now made vital human rights protection less likely than ever. ... It's inexplicable that 176 of 193 UN member states voted to support the blood-soaked regime of Omar Al-Bashir...."
"By granting the seal of international legitimacy to a mass murderer, the UN human rights system has today diminished its own credibility, and cast a shadow upon the reputation of the organization as a whole. ... Why have world leaders lost their moral voice? Those who failed to prevent it must at least now speak out for the victims of Darfur, and for basic decency and morality.”
Until the UN is able to reign in this tendency to allow abusers to pervert the institution both to shield themselves from scrutiny and permit them to point fingers at others, it will never become the bastion of human rights where the individual can hope for protection, despite what portends in the UN Charter, "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women," that the abusers claim allegiance to, then flaunt with virtual impunity.

No comments:

Post a Comment