Saturday, May 10, 2008

UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) - A Bloody Joke! - Freedom House

The United Nations is losing credibility and respect worldwide. This is not really surprising when we look at some of their decisions and actions. One of the reasons lies in the composition of some of the UN bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council. The council is composed of 47 member states and current members of this council are (mandate expiry date in parentheses):

Angola (2010), Bangladesh (2009), Azerbaijan (2009), Bolivia (2010), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2010), Brazil (2008), Canada (2009), Cameroon (2009), China (2009), Cuba (2009), Djibouti (2009), Egypt (2010), France (2008), India (2010), Italy (2010), Romania (2008), Russian Federation (2009), Germany (2009), Gabon (2008), Ghana (2008), Guatemala (2008), Indonesia (2010), Japan (2008), Jordan (2009), Madagascar (2010), Malaysia (2009), Mali (2008), Mauritius (2009), Mexico (2009), Netherlands (2010), Nicaragua (2010), Nigeria (2009), Pakistan (2008), Peru (2008), Philippines (2010), Qatar (2010), Saudi Arabia (2009), Senegal(2009), Slovenia (2010), South Africa (2010), South Korea (2008), Sri Lanka (2008), Switzerland (2009), Ukraine (2008), United Kingdom (2008), Uruguay (2009) & Zambia (2008)

On 21 May 2008, 15 of the 47 UNHRC seats will come up for election or re-election. Clearly there are some countries which are unfit to serve on this Council given their own human rights record but also their complete disrespect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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This following extracts come from Lorne Gunter's article in the Calgary Herald, dated Saturday, 10 May 2008.

Human Rights Abusers Hijacking United Nations
Published: Saturday, May 10, 2008

Each year, the human rights watchdog Freedom House surveys all 193 countries in the world, plus 15 select territories, and assesses the state of freedom in each.

During 2007, Freedom House determined that 90 countries (47 per cent) were free. Their governments respected "a broad array of basic human rights and political freedoms." This is good news. Since these countries also represent nearly one-half of the world's population, that means we are approaching the day when a majority of Earth's inhabitants live free.


Contains Table of Independent Countries: Freedom in the World 2008


Since 1977, the number of free countries has doubled. Another 60 countries (31 per cent) were "partly free." While there were "some abridgements of basic rights and weak enforcement of the rule of law" in these countries, political dissent was mostly permitted, elections were largely free and citizens could believe what they wished without much fear of imprisonment. (Sort of like Canada before human rights commissions began telling us what thoughts were and were not acceptable.)

But 43 countries and eight territories were "not free," according to Freedom House. In those states "citizens endure systematic and pervasive human rights violations." Freedom of expression and assembly are limited or non-existent. Critics of the government are imprisoned and occasionally executed. Of this Un-Free 43, Freedom House considers 17 countries and three territories to be "the worst of the worst."

"Within these (17) entities," Freedom House explains, "state control over daily life is pervasive and wide-ranging, independent organizations and political opposition are banned or suppressed, and fear of retribution for independent thought and action is part of daily life."

Furthermore, eight of these are considered "the world's most repressive regimes." These include Burma (Myanmar), where the junta is so repressive and paranoid it won't permit most international aid to enter its cyclone-ravaged land for fear aid workers will seduce the Burmese into revolt.

They value their power more than they value the lives of tens of thousands of their countrymen. The other seven most-repressive are Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Also included are two territories, Chechnya and Tibet.

The fascinating aspect for me is how many of Freedom House's "worst of the worst list" have also been elected by the UN to be voting members on its human rights council.

The UN human rights watchdog has 47 members. One, Cuba, is among the eight most-repressive governments in the world, as judged by Freedom House. And two more, China and Saudi Arabia, are among the bottom 17 countries.

In all, 10 members of the UN Human Rights Council -- more than one-fifth of its complement -- are from Freedom House's list of countries that have few if any freedoms.

On 21 May, 15 of the 47 UNHRC seats will come up for election or re-election.

Along with UN Watch, an organization that analyzes UN activities, statements and programs, Freedom House has declared that five of the 15 candidate countries -- Bahrain, Gabon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zambia -- are entirely unfit for membership because of their rights records. All but one of them (Bahrain) is already a member of the commission. This goes to show how useless the UN is at protecting Human Rights.

Of the 47 member states, UN Watch calculates that just 13 have pro-freedom voting records at council meetings. Canada leads the way with 19 freedom-defending votes on the 32 most important resolutions to come before UNHRC last year. The next-best records belong to France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom, all with 11 for 32 records.

Yet that leaves 34 UNHRC members with anti-freedom voting patterns, including Russia and China, which voted against expanding freedom 18 of 32 times and 19 of 32, respectively.

This was not supposed to happen. Three years ago when the corrupt, feckless UN Commission on Human Rights was replaced by the UNHRC, the world was reassured the council would never become hijacked by rights-abusing countries the way its predecessor had been.

But once again the UN has placed the foxes in charge of the henhouse.

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