THE NEW UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: WORSE THAN EVER
Dear HonestReporting Subscriber:
In June 2006, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan inaugurated the new United Nations Human Rights Council. The new Council is the successor to the now defunct Human Rights Commission, which was often criticized for its membership of some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. There were high hopes that the new body would become the world’s leading protector of human rights. At the opening ceremony, Annan said:
"This Council represents a great new chance for the United Nations, and for humanity, to renew the struggle for human rights."
Despite these high hopes, however, the Council quickly focused on singling Israel out for condemnation while ignoring the worst cases of human rights abuses around the world. The media often holds international bodies such as the UNHRC to be a reference and a guiding moral light. Therefore, HonestReporting recognizes the importance of exposing this new body’s unbalanced and politicized agenda.
THE UNHRC’S FIRST MEETING, JUNE 2006
At the first session of the UNHRC, only one nation was singled out for criticism – Israel. The Council decided that Israel was abusing human rights and, to validate their predetermined conclusion, they ordered an investigation. The Council was very clear in what it expected the investigation to conclude. The Council
The resolution authorized a special session of the UNHRC to focus solely on Israel and that the issue should be on the agenda of all subsequent UNHRC meetings.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL IGNORES ABUSE IN DARFUR
As Eye on the UN points out:
THE UNHRC MEETS FOR A SECOND TIME: JULY 6, 2006.
Unsurprisingly, at the special session called for by the earlier resolution, Israel was singled out for vehement attack. The Council approved Resolution S-1/1: Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This resolution, without any mention of historical context, terrorism, or Israeli peace proposals:
UNHRC IGNORES ABUSE IN GUINEA
On the same day that the Council met to discuss Israel, a report by Human Rights Watch noted:
To date, the Council has taken no action on human rights abuses in Guinea.
ANOTHER SPECIAL SESSION: AUGUST 11, 2006
In August, following Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on Israel, the UNHRC decided to host another special session. Yet, the Council was not interested in how the conflict started. Instead, it created a commission of inquiry to review the situation but expressly forbid this commission from investigating the actions of Hezbollah. Resolution S-2/1 authorizing the investigation mandated that only certain aspects of the conflict would be examined. These aspects were defined as:
"1) investigating the systematic targeting and killings of civilians by Israel in Lebanon; (b) examining the types of weapons used by Israel and their conformity with international law; and (c) assessing the extent and deadly impact of Israeli attacks on human life, property, critical infrastructure and the environment."
The report noted that:
The UNHRC deliberately prevented a fair examination of the conflict. Any reasonable investigation would have noted that:
The conflict was initiated when Israeli soldiers were killed and kidnapped on Israeli soil.
While ignoring any information from the government of Israel, the UNHRC accepted as fact a list of 56 "massacres by the Israeli army" from the Lebanese government. (Annex VI).
The full report is available online here.
THE UNHRC HOLDS YET ANOTHER SPECIAL SESSION, NOVEMBER 15, 2006
On November 15, 19 Palestinian civilians were killed when an Israeli artillery shell veered off course, missing its intended military target. As HonestReporting pointed out, this terrible tragedy occurred due to an unintended accident. The government of Israel apologized immediately and pointed out that if the Palestinians had stopped firing rockets on Sderot, this accident could not have taken place. Yet, that same day, the UNHRC leapt into action to hold yet another special session and pass another resolution condemning Israel. Once again, there was no mention at all of the constant firing of rockets on Israeli civilian areas. There was no mention of Gilad Shalit, still held captive in Gaza. The Council provided no context at all to describe the incident.
The Council "expressed its shock at the horror of Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun and called for bringing the perpetrators thereof to justice". The Council decided to send a fact finding mission to "make recommendations on ways and means to protect Palestinian civilians against further Israeli assaults." No mention was made of protecting Israeli civilians from further assault.
UNHRC IGNORES HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE IN SRI LANKA
While the Council was meeting, the Toronto Star reported on a study by Human Rights Watch that:
To date, over 65,000 people have been killed in this conflict. The Human Rights Council has never discussed the government abduction of children or the ongoing mass murder in Sri Lanka.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has been in existence for just over six months. During that time, it has ignored terrible human rights abuses around the world. It has become an organization dedicated solely to condemning and vilifying the State of Israel. As such, it lacks credibility and should not be seen by the media as a credible source on the subject of human rights. If you see your media referring to the Council without some background, let them know the facts.
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