Commentary and Newsletters

Anne Bayefsky

UN Human Rights Council - Credibility Exploded in Its First Session

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

The Human Rights Council was Kofi Annan's flagship of UN reform. But only two weeks after it began, it took up where the discredited Human Rights Commission left off - Israel-bashing. This time, however, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, has taken over the Council. The hijacking was made possible because of the redistribution of seats in the March resolution that created the Council. Only four countries, including the U.S. and Israel, voted against the resolution. The Administration also decided not to seek membership on the Council. U.S. UN Ambassador John Bolton was widely criticized for the move by such individuals as Congressman Tom Lantos, and undercut by promises to support the Council and to pay for it coming from Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns.

Here is what transpired at its first session - none of which would have been changed by a single vote had the U.S. been a member. The Council adopted only one resolution condemning human rights violations by any of the 192 UN members - directed at Israel. It placed criticism of Israel permanently on the agenda of all future sessions. It gave only the special investigator on Israel what amounted to a permanent mandate. And when it ended, the Council decided to hold its first special (emergency) session within days on Israel.

Just for information -- in Darfur, there are three quarters of a million people beyond humanitarian reach, 2.5 million people displaced by the violence, 385,000 people in immediate risk of starvation, and over two million dead in twenty-two years of violence and deprivation.

But there are no plans for the UN's lead human rights agency to have a special session on Darfur. The villians aren't Jews.