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Thursday, January 23, 2003
Tell me something I don't know
A great piece by Claudia Rosett in OpinionJournal denouncing the promotion of Libya to chair of the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
It is a betrayal of millions upon millions of people living under governments so brutal--from North Korea to Turkmenistan to Iraq--that most citizens do not dare to demand the freedoms that belong by right to all human beings.

It is absurd, in fact, to describe the exaltation on Monday of Libya's Ambassador Najat al-Hajjaji to head of the Human Rights Commission as the product of a "vote." That implies there was some sort of democratic process at work. In the secret balloting among the 53 nations that currently sit on the Human Rights Commission, only three--the U.S., Canada and, reportedly, Guatemala--voted against Libya. Among the 33 governments that voted in favor of Libya were almost certainly the rulers of such civic sinkholes as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Cuba and Zimbabwe. Like the despots in Syria, Vietnam and China, these are folks who do not have the guts to face a genuine system of democracy back home, They wield their votes at the U.N. not as legitimate representatives of their own fellow citizens, but as two-faced members of the global club of tyrants, who hold sway through force and fear.

Then there are the 17 nations that abstained from the balloting, including such moral beacons of the European Union as France and Germany. Their thinking seems to be that they were simply complying with U.N. etiquette, which, as it happens, operates with lots of ritual but no regard for the actual needs of the oppressed. When the Human Rights Commission was founded, back in 1947, the U.S. chaired its sessions not only for the first year but for the next five. Maybe that bothered such rivals as Stalin's U.S.S.R., but back then the idea was to help ordinary people, not tyrants.

Since then, it has become the custom that the chairmanship of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights rotates yearly among five geographic groups of member nations. This year was Africa's turn. The African members nominated Libya which has been liberally dispensing funds to curry influence among African rulers. Rather than take a stand on this outrage, the European Union took a coffee break. Thus did Libya take its seat on the throne of this erstwhile human-rights outfit, which we should perhaps start describing as the U.N. Commission on Rotating Chairs--a label that would better reflect its priorities.
What she says. I have just two thoughts in response:

  • What difference does it make? The only role of the UNHRC is to denounce Israel anyway. This vote will just make it more obvious how biased the Commission is.
  • We couldn't ask for a more perfect illustration of why the United States will never join the International Criminal Court being pushed on us by the multilateralists of the world. The "International" in the International Criminal Court consists of three groups: the United States, countries that have no respect for human rights, and countries that claim to care about human rights but are too gutless to stand up for them. Why on earth would the U.S. ever allow one of its citizens to be turned over to that monstrous collection in order to stand trial?
Sometimes you hear news like this and you react with outrage. Sometimes you just grimace and say, "About what I expected." This is one of the latter situations.

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