Human Rights Offenders to be Human Rights “Defenders”?
Opinions on the role of the UN in a modern world differ greatly. To some, the UN is a bureaucratic cesspool that brings nothing of value to the world. To others, it is a cherished organization that offers the possibility of resolving conflicts through diplomacy. To Manhattan commuters — even the ones who love what the UN represents — the organization has become synonymous with congested traffic, road closures, and being late for happy hour. I happen to fall somewhere in the middle: believing the UN is indeed a bureaucratic mess but also valuing the idea of voluntary associations and cooperation between nations.
What I wish to discuss today is just how ridiculous the UN has become. The organization is a great example of what moral bankruptcy looks like in practice: say one thing, but DO the exact opposite.
Case in point: the recent news that Syria appears likely to win a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Yes, you read that correctly. A government that has been torturing and killing its own citizens for over a year is set to become a member of the body charged with protecting … human rights.
And in case anyone doubts the depravity of Al-Assad’s regime, click on the links below (Disclaimer: some of the images are shocking):
- SHOCKING REPORT EXPOSES SYRIA’S 27 TORTURE CENTERS: ‘WE MADE THEM SUCK THEIR OWN BLOOD OFF THE FLOOR
- A Rare View of Conflict in Syria
- Annan admits Syria failure, at least 60 killed
- Syrian Massacre: At Least 25 Killed In Darat Azzah Village, State TV Blames Terrorists
- Thugs loyal to Syrian president’s regime slaughter up to 50 children
- Syria Massacre Victims In Houla Executed, Says UN
What’s most disturbing about this whole situation is that the Al-Assad regime has been condemned by the very Human Rights Council which is set to accept Syria:
In a resolution, the Council “strongly condemned the widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights, acts of violence, ongoing atrocities and indiscriminate targeting of civilians by the Syrian authorities,” while also condemning the crimes by members of the Government-controlled militia known as the Shabiha. It also reiterated an earlier call for an end to all violence by all parties.
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began 16 months ago.
In its resolution, the Council also condemned the continued extrajudicial killings, in particular the targeted killing of children, and the fact that they have been subject to arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment.
- Last year, North Korea — the regime that starves its people while pursuing nuclear weapons — chaired the UN’s … Conference on Disarmament.
- In 2010, the UN named Iran — an egregious violator of women’s rights — to its … Commission on the Status of Women.
- In 2004, Sudan — the country responsible for ethnic cleansing in Darfur — was nominated for a 3rd term on the … Human Rights Council.
Some might retort, “Ah, but remember, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” To this I would ask to see evidence of the impact of bringing these human rights offenders into the fold. Has much changed in North Korea? In Sudan (aside from the South breaking away)?
The UN continues to make life easy for all its critics. Whether these ridiculous nominations — along with many other bureaucratic messes and controversies — have a real impact on the longevity of the organization remains to be seen. But what I see is that the organization that purports to uphold global governance, civility, discourse, has not only opened itself to criticism but fundamentally eroded its ability to claim the moral high ground and act as an arbiter of human rights. And in a world in need of peacemaking, this does not bode well.