This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Another United Nations Human Rights Triumph

"It's scandalous that the United Nations chose a country that has beheaded more people this year [as capital punishment for criminal offences against the state] than ISIS, to be head of a key human rights panel. Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights."
"Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women's rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi."
This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members." 
“The UN often describes these experts as the ‘crown jewels’ of its Human Rights Council, yet the world body only undermines their legitimacy by picking a fundamentalist theocracy that oppresses women and minorities to preside over the experts’ appointment.”
UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer
The principle of universality of human rights is the cornerstone of international human rights law. This principle, as first emphasized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, has been reiterated in numerous international human rights conventions, declarations, and resolutions. The 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, for example, noted that it is the duty of States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems.
UN Watch reported that the United Nations saw fit to choose Saudi Arabia to head a five-member group of ambassadors, the Consultative Group, given the power to select applicants globally for some 77 positions to deal with country-specific and thematic human rights mandates. So the issue is the absurdity of countries well known to be abusive to their own populations' human rights through tyrannical and oppressive leadership, sitting in judgement on the world's human rights abusers. That old adage that it takes a thief to catch a thief possibly motivates the United Nations. 

On the other hand, the presence of Saudi Arabia and other countries whose record on respect of human rights along with their oppressive tyrannies of their own populations guarantees that they will not go out of their way to bring opprobrium to those countries which align with them politically, and support them in their positions. What they will do and have done and continue to do is to selectively turn their attention to the least human-rights offending country in a purely political move to sideline and slander Israel whose human rights record could serve as a standard globally.

But of course, it is the lobbying of support groups like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-aligned Movement within the United Nations that influence all such decision-making. The UN Human Rights Council whose membership is half comprised of democratic nations like France who know what human rights violations look like and others like China, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Russian Federation and Morocco, whose versions of human rights look nothing like the declaration above, makes a mockery of the very issue they are supposed to uphold.

Saudi Arabia's envoy to the UN Human Rights Council, Faisal Trad, was appointed to chair a special appointments panel in the 30th session of the council. Diplomats in Geneva took the precaution of not advertising their decision in the full knowledge of the corruption of the meaning of upholding human rights when the decision was made to elect the Saudi ambassador. Mr. Neuer of UN Watch suspects that this represents an arrangement that prevented the Kingdom's bid to preside over the 47-nation council in exchange for compliance for the lesser position.
Presentation of Credentials by Saudi Arabia in Geneva
Left: Faisal Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Geneva, has been elected Chair of the UN Human Rights Council panel that appoints independent experts. Right: Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Riyadh originally sought the council presidency, which was then followed by a protest led by UN Watch, to alert the international community to the proceedings whereby the misogynistic, backward, rigidly Islamist, Sunni jihad-supporting Saudi Arabia would head the UN's Human Rights Council. Because the United States has an amicable relationship with the Kingdom, reflecting its oil reserves and the power and influences that it occupies as a result, on the world stage, there was no protest from U.S. officials.

“We cannot forget that the U.S. and the EU refused to utter a word of protest when we urged them, together with Saudi dissidents, to oppose the monarchy’s election in 2013. It’s a sad comment on our world that oil continues to trump basic human rights principles.”
“It’s bad enough that Saudi Arabia is a member of the council, but for the UN to go and name the regime as chair of a key panel only pours salt in the wounds for dissidents languishing in Saudi prisons, like human rights activist Raif Badawi.”
Hillel Neuer, UN Watch
In this instance as in many others, the United Nations' principles are seen to be completely morally bankrupt; in April, the EU and the US did nothing whatever to stop the fundamentalist Islamic Republic of Iran from gaining a prominent post on UN Women, the world agency for women’s equality and empowerment. The very concept of the Iranian Republic sitting on a UN body whose purpose is to uphold women's rights demonstrates the utter lack of trust any democratic nation can continue to place in the functions of the United Nations.

Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, winner of the 2015 Geneva Summit Women’s Rights Award

"[The election represents] an insult to many Iranian women who are suffering from the lack of equal rights.”
“The existing laws in my country do not allow me as a woman to walk in public without wearing the veil; I, as a woman, do not even have the freedom to choose my own dress. The laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran do not allow me to travel or get an education without the permission of my husband. I cannot even get married without the permission of my father.”
“The laws in my country do not allow women to sing solo as our voice allegedly runs the risk of provoking men. Under laws of the Islamic Republic, my share of inheritance is half of that of my male relatives. Under the laws of the Islamic Republic, just last year more than 18,000 women ended up in court for being ‘badly veiled.’ UN Women was created by the United Nations as a body for gender equality and for the empowerment of women. If so, isn’t it an insult to women to give the leadership role to those governments that oppress their own women?”
Is anyone even listening?

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