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Resources updated between Monday, February 06, 2006 and Sunday, February 12, 2006

February 10, 2006

Only the first part of the meeting of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was webcast -- the part where the Secretary-General spoke and listened respectively to the rant from UN Palestinian observer, Riyad Mansour. Mansour did not mention the word 'Hamas'. Nor did he mention that the charter of Hamas includes: "The Islamic Resistance Movement consider itself to be the spearhead of the circle of struggle with world Zionism...Islamic groupings all over the Arab world should also do the same, since all of these are the best-equipped for the future role in the fight with the warmongering Jews." Instead, Mansour called the election of a government headed by such an organization a "festival of democracy." After using every ugly adjective he could dream up to condemn the Israel with which he purports to seek peace, he lauded the Committee's operations. He demanded the Committee be exempt from the review of UN mandates currently proceeding under the "reform" agenda. Mansour went on to suggest that the Committee serve as the Secretary-General's advisor on the activities of the Middle East Quartet –- hardly necessary since Annan was enjoying the speech from the podium anyway.

Webcast of the meeting of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (first 47 minutes only) Development

Kofi Annan

The last time the Secretary-General showed up at a meeting of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) was November 29, 2005. On that occasion the meeting sported a map without the state of Israel in the background. This time the Secretary-General had an aide scope out the room before he appeared. I guess he couldn't rely either on his own staff in the Division for Palestinian Rights, or the Senegalese Ambassador who chairs the Committee, to keep the map out of the limelight. But the map aside, what was the Secretary-General doing at the next CEIRPP meeting anyway? He came to tell this Committee, which didn't have a problem with a map without Israel, that the Palestinian vote for Hamas "underlin[ed] their commitment to build their democracy." He spoke about the Palestinian election without mentioning who was elected, a kind of disembodied electoral event. The party elected has a charter which includes "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him"? The Secretary-General's response? "I respect the decision of the Palestinian people." Annan then proceeded to condemn Israel for the "plight of the Palestinian people," while neglecting to mention terrorism or the plight of the Israeli people facing a government dedicated to their annihilation. In short, the embarrassing map may have been removed. The UN agenda remains the same.

Statement of the Secretary-General at the meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people Development

Secretary-General Annan urging time for Hamas - just like he is doing with Iran. Recall the UN still does not have a definition of terrorism in the year 2006. No wonder Annan can't recognize a vote for anti-semitism and its terrorist methodology.

The Secretary-General's gameplan for human rights? A UN human rights council at any cost. The draft on the table for a "new and improved" human rights council contains a provision that would allow states to call for a special session with the support of only one-third of the membership. The draft also gives the Asian and African regional groups a greater proportional membership than the existing commission - 29% - or almost the one-third required for a special session with no consultation. The first and second special session of the Council? The Danish cartoons and Israel.

Remarks of the Secretary-General Development

February 9, 2006

February 8, 2006

Paul Badji

This is the same Committee that displayed a map without the UN member state of Israel during its meeting at UN Headquarters in November 2005. Financed from the UN's regular budget, this body suggests the election of a Hamas-led government is a step towards democracy and peace with the Jewish state. UN reform-efforts currently undertaking a review of mandates more than 5 years old - this committee goes back three decades - should start with the abolition of this one.

Statement of the Bureau of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on the holding of the Palestinian Legislative Council elections Development

Editor's note - slight correction. In my article I indicated that there have been no resolutions from the Commission on Human Rights condemning human rights violations by China, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe. There have been resolutions on Cuba.

UN's Ability to Overhaul its Human Rights Role Questioned Article

John Dugard

UN "expert" John Dugard last year promoted a one-state solution (aka the end of Israel) in his UN report. Now he tells the Guardian journalist, spinning a story on the evils of Jewish self-determination, that Israel is worse than apartheid South Africa.

Brothers in arms - Israel's secret pact with Pretoria Article

Kofi Annan

Not less than two weeks after commemorating the deaths of Jews sixty years ago, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is back to UN business as usual - condemning Jews of today for defending themselves against a mortal threat. He ignores international law and plays to his regular political constituency - the undemocratic UN majority.

The actual state of international law, contrary to Annan's predilections: (1) Killing combatants is not illegal. It is not the targeted killings that place innocent bystanders at grave risk. The terrorists who live and operate among them place innocent bystanders at grave risk. That is why combatants who use civilians as human shields are not immune. In the words of the Geneva Conventions, the presence of "civilians shall not be used to render... areas immune from military operations... in attempts to shield military objectives from attack." (2) The overriding legal limit on the conduct of war and the targeting of combatants is the rule of proportionality. In the words of the Geneva Conventions, an attack on a military target "which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life" is prohibited if "excessive." The likelihood of civilian casualties must be carefully considered prior to taking action, but international law requires proportionality not immunity. (3) Targeted killings are not executions without trial. Combatants - including unlawful combatants who seek to make themselves indistinguishable from the civilian population - are not entitled to prior judicial process. Furthermore, judicial process in these instances is not an option, since attempted arrest by Israeli forces would place both IDF and Palestinian civilians at much greater risk of harm, and Palestinian Authority forces refuse to arrest.

Annan's statement deserves careful attention. First paragraph, condemn Israel. Second paragraph, address "all parties." First paragraph name the perpetrator - Israel. Second paragraph - the perpetrators are nameless. First paragraph, condemn Israel for violating law. Second paragraph, urge respect for law.

Eulogizing dead Jews of a generation ago at January's Holocaust memorial came easy for Kofi Annan. It was an ideal cover for nourishing the killers of this generation.

Statement of the Secretary-General on the Middle East Development

February 7, 2006

Kofi Annan

How violence works. Secretary-General Annan made no such anguished response to anti-semitic caricatures or television broadcasts in Muslim countries over years.

Joint Statement by the Secretary-General of the UN, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Conference and the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU regarding the published cartoons depicting Mohammed Development

Mohamed ElBaradei

UN's ElBaradei keeping extent of Iran nuclear proliferation efforts out of the public eye. "In a confidential report [leaked to AP] to the IAEA's 35-member board on Monday, agency head Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran also announced a sharp reduction in the number and kind of IAEA inspections, effective immediately."

Iran Tells Nuke Agency to Remove Cameras Article

As Jeanette Friedman, Editor of Together,The Voice of American Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, rightly points out the children of Holocaust Survivors are some of the most realistic, sanest group around. In her words: "we don't have our parents' nightmares. We have nightmares about people like Islamist extremists with bombs, a scenario not impossible given the state of realpolitik in this world. We do carry anger, an anger that fuels our passion for justice and tikkun olam [healing the world]." See the important work of American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.

Eyes Wide Shut Article

Richard Lugar

Senator Lugar told the Security Council yesterday that it was "critically necessary" for the UN to establish a new Human Rights Council "to replace the Human Rights Commission, which has been discredited because of the membership of repressive and undemocratic regimes. The membership criteria of the new Council must ensure that those elected to it observe human rights and abide by the rule of law." Senator Lugar must have had the draft of the Council now being discussed, which contains no membership criteria, and have known that the idea of "membership criteria" fell off the negotiating table almost two months ago. The question is, what is Senator Lugar proposing that the U.S. do about it?

Address by Senator Lugar to the Security Council Document

Kofi Annan

Annan now working at downplaying role of the Security Council on the Iran issue and the idea of the Council taking strong action.

Remarks by the Secretary-General on Iran Document

Monday, February 06, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is facing one of the hardest choices yet in her multilateralist career. UN members are poised to adopt a new primary UN human rights body to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission. Negotiations on the last draft, released February 2nd, started February 6th. As it now stands UN members would create a body far worse than its predecessor, but the push is on to make the United States out to be the isolationist spoiler if the administration says no.

Ambassador John Bolton has been keeping his finger in the dike for months. He has insisted that he won't accept a caterpillar wearing lipstick and pretend it's a butterfly. But even the caterpillar is looking good compared to the New York City cockroach now on the table.

Here is what negotiators at Turtle Bay have produced since Secretary-General Kofi Annan first misrepresented the situation after the September's UN Summit. Back then he declared that the Summit had "made real progress on...human rights..." and that "the detailed language [on the Human Rights Council] developed in the lead-up to the Summit...enjoyed the support of the overwhelming majority of Member States."

Ever since, member states have been fighting it out to come up with the minimum common denominator that can be sold to the naïve or illiterate as a "new" Human Rights Council. This is the result.

Democratic UN members sought to reduce significantly the numbers on the Council as a means of minimizing the chances of electing the worst human rights abusers. The draft makes the earth-shattering change from 53 members to 45. A second idea was to have the Council meet more often. The draft calls for a minimum of ten weeks per year, which represents an additional four weeks from the current term, and potentially even sessions year-round. But in the UN's own inimitable fashion, meeting time has become an end in itself, since more may well be less given the remainder of the draft.

The proportionate number of members will be changed to reflect more accurate geographic distribution. This means the overall representation of Western states will be reduced and the representation of Asian states will increase. Forty-four percent of the members of the Asian regional group are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Given that many initiatives of democratic states at the Commission pass by only one or two votes, this redistribution is a major blow.

The reduction of Western seats is coupled with the absence of any criteria whatsoever for membership. On the contrary, the draft says explicitly that membership "shall be open to all Member States of the United Nations." In a laughable addition, it goes on to suggest that "when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into consideration the candidates' contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and the voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto [and]...whether there are any situations that constitute systematic and gross violations of human rights or any agreed measures currently in place at the United Nations against a candidate for human rights violations." In other words, the solution to a Commission that currently includes China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Zimbabwe is to beg countries in the future to please consider their human rights record.

What happened when an exhortation was made in November 2005 at the UN General Assembly for states to consider Sudan's human rights record and adopt a resolution condemning atrocities in Sudan? The resolution failed as the UN majority rallied to Sudan's side. The Commission has never adopted a single resolution in over forty years criticizing human rights violations by China, Saudi Arabia or Zimbabwe. On such countries there are no "agreed measures currently in place...for human rights violations."

The United States -- which bears 22% of the costs -- has been a member of the Commission since it began, with the exception of 2002. But the new draft will require all countries to go off the Council after two consecutive terms. New and improved, UN-style, means a lot less contribution from the United States to the international promotion and protection of human rights -- while keeping the dollars flowing of course.

The UN has had innumerable conferences and meetings related to human rights. Many end in pronouncements which masquerade as consensus despite serious disagreements, or are products of subsets of UN members because of their objectionable content. Over the years, there has been a never-ending UN game of ignoring reservations or lack of universal agreement in an attempt to raise the status of the outcomes of these meetings to the level of binding international law. The Council draft takes this maneuver to shocking new heights. It requires Council members to "promote...the follow-up of the goals and commitments related to the promotion and protection of human rights emanating from United Nations conferences and summits." Given there is no exception, the United States will now be required to promote follow-up to such UN conferences as the 2001 Durban Racism Conference (which the United States left in disgust), and the 1978 and 1983 UN World Racism Conferences which preceded it. The 1978 conference "proclaims its solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation and against racial discrimination" while concerned about "the insidious propaganda by the Government of Israel and its zionist and other supporters..." Hamas will be pleased.

Also scattered throughout the proposal are references to the "right to development," repeatedly singled out either as a human right of special importance, or as a distinct right worthy of equal respect to any human right. In addition, there are numerous calls for "cooperation and dialogue," included in an effort to stymie condemnation of particular human rights abuses.

Another idea in the draft, supposedly meant to scare the world's bullies and despots from running for election, is "peer review." An examination of local human rights conditions will be conducted during the tenure of all Council members (and later for every UN state.) But peer review will take place only after the election. A requirement that the review conclude with a public report, which made it into an earlier version, has been deleted. No one could seriously believe that the likes of such states as China and Cuba, which unabashedly characterize themselves as democracies, will be inhibited from submitting their candidacies because of "peer review".

One of the only remaining items still undecided is the issue of whether members must be elected by a two-thirds majority, or a simple majority of fifty percent as is now the case. Some believe that a larger majority will operate to keep off the worst offenders. It is typical of UN negotiations that attention is now diverted from the real failure, namely, the lack of membership criteria. Voting must result in a specified geographical distribution, and the UN's five regional groups will be able to put forward internally agreed slates which would satisfy their regional quotas. This will make it very difficult, though not impossible, to reject the only candidates put forward for regional slots. Furthermore, the so-called "Group of 77 and China," an alliance operating within the UN which today numbers 132 or 69% of UN members, has the requisite two-thirds to elect any state it chooses. Under the two-thirds criterion it is far more likely that the United States will fail to be elected than China.

There is also a telling omission from the draft. Israel is the only UN member state left standing in the halls from 9 to 10 a.m. every day of a UN Human Rights Commission session. It is excluded from full membership in a UN regional group and is therefore not permitted to attend the important negotiating and information-sharing meetings which take place every morning. Even non-members like "Palestine" and the Holy See can attend, but not the Jewish State. In the draft, pains are taken to include all kinds of other entities in the Council deliberations, but there is no insistence that this egregious discrimination against Israel come to an end.

In sum, this UN Human Rights Council is a disaster. Acquiescence will mean that the political will, however meager, resulting from almost universal admission that the system was discredited, will have been squandered. At the same time, if the United States agrees to this charade and become one of its architects, the ability of future U.S. administrations to reject its machinations will have been sabotaged.

No doubt American objection will be subject to the predictable outcry that it is Ambassador Bolton's fault, just as it will be his fault when the experiment of such a Council fails. Indeed, the campaign to put lipstick on the cockroach has already started. Human Rights Watch spokesperson Peggy Hicks commented on February 3rd: "The new text substantially advances the discussion and gives a good basis to achieve a stronger human rights council, assuming there is a decision to have members of the council elected by a two-thirds majority." February 3rd's New York Times headline reads "With Its Human Rights Oversight Under Fire, U.N. Submits a Plan for a Strengthened Agency."

The rah-rah UN, boo Bolton rallying cry, however, has one major impediment -- it is diametrically opposed to the alleged raison d'etre of a new human rights body supposedly championed by the very same critics. A New York Times editorial of January 10th, 2006, said "The problem with the current discredited Human Rights Commission is that its members are chosen by a system of regional rotation that fails to take into account the actual human rights performance of prospective members...Some of the people most in need of a strong U.N. voice on human rights live under tyrannies that have carefully cultivated Chinese or Russian favor: Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe, to name a few." Absolutely nothing in their so-called "plan for a strengthened agency" addresses the system of regional entitlements, ensures account is taken of the actual human rights performance of prospective members, or prohibits any of these states from being elected all over again.

On January 1st, 2006 Peggy Hicks of Human Rights Watch was reported as saying "the presence of abusive countries on the commission...end[s] up weakening action on human rights abuses worldwide." Absolutely nothing in the draft, characterized by Hicks as a "good basis to achieve a stronger human rights council," prevents the presence of these abusive countries in the future. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch apparently "shares Bolton's assessment that the United States "shouldn't settle for window dressing."" These poor fellows are now torn between the usual sycophantic treatment of the UN and the unsightly naked emperor standing in the window.

That brings us back to Condoleezza Rice. Will the United States play the same game? Will the desperate search for multilateral friends in this and other contexts result in an attempt to convince members of Congress that the new UN Human Rights Council is a real gain? Perhaps Congress should schedule hearings on the new draft, or invite State Department representatives to explain the current situation immediately, before it's too late. We have reached the nub of the incapacity of the UN, with a membership composed primarily of states which are not fully democratic, to meet the challenges of democratization and human rights protection in the 21st century. Short-term and superficial camaraderie is not worth the price of pretense triumphing over principle.


A version of this article appeared in National Review Online, February 6, 2006 at http://www.nationalreview.com/bayefsky/bayefsky200602060929.asp

Anne Bayefsky

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is facing one of the hardest choices yet in her multilateralist career. UN members are poised to adopt a new primary UN human rights body to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission. Negotiations on the last draft, released February 2nd, started February 6th. As it now stands UN members would create a body far worse than its predecessor, but the push is on to make the United States out to be the isolationist spoiler if the administration says no.

Ambassador John Bolton has been keeping his finger in the dike for months. He has insisted that he won't accept a caterpillar wearing lipstick and pretend it's a butterfly. But even the caterpillar is looking good compared to the New York City cockroach now on the table.

"New" Human Rights Council Spells Disaster Editor's Note

Mohamed ElBaradei

Egyptian, Mohamed ElBaradei, is the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He has held the post since 1 December 1997. ElBaradei has been fighting to keep Iran off the agenda of the UN Security Council. In his latest effort to downplay the threat and protect Iran, he told a press briefing on February 2, 2006: "We are reaching a critical phase but it is not a crisis situation. It is about confidence building and it is not about an imminent threat... Whether the Boardīs outcome will be to report to the Security Council or not, everybody agrees that the only way to move forward is through diplomacy, through negotiation and there is still a window of opportunity for all concerned parties to find a way forward."

Director General Briefs Press on Iran Nuclear Issue Document

Egyptian Ambassador to the IAEA, Ramzy Ezzeldeiin Ramzy, is the Vice-Chairperson of the IAEA Board of Governors, 2005-06. Egypt has been fighting to keep Iran off the agenda of the UN Security Council, and to redirect the attention of the IAEA to Israel. Previously declared Egyptian efforts have been realized as the IAEA successfully links the Israel issue to the Iran resolution.

Arabs to mark Israel nuclear threat Article

If ever we needed proof of how dangerous the UN is -- the self-defence of the democratic state of Israel put on a par with the nuclear arms ambitions of a genocidal fascist.

The UN nuclear watchdog board votes by 27 out of 35 to refer Iran's nuclear activities to the UN Security Council. Washington bows to Egypt's demand to tag Israel onto the Iranian case Article