Resources updated between Monday, March 31, 2014 and Sunday, April 06, 2014
April 4, 2014
The UN Human Rights Council ended its four-week session on March 28, 2014. In addition to the five resolutions condemning only Israel, the Council took some action or had some comment - though often very weak - on another 10 states:
Sri Lanka A/HRC/25/L.1/Rev.1, Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka
Guinea A/HRC/25/L.6, Strengthening of technical cooperation and advisory services in Guinea
Syria A/HRC/25/L.7, The continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic
Iran A/HRC/25/L.9, Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Democratic People's Republic of Korea A/HRC/25/L.17, The situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Myanmar A/HRC/25/L.21/Rev.1, Situation of human rights in Myanmar
Mali A/HRC/25/L.33, Assistance for Mali in the field of human rights
Libya A/HRC/25/L.35, Technical assistance for Libya in the field of human rights
South Sudan A/HRC/25/L.34, The human rights situation in South Sudan (President's Statement)
Haiti A/HRC/25/L.42, The human rights situation in Haiti (President's Statement)
President Obama's hemorrhaging foreign policy is creating an increasingly embarrassing mess at the United Nations. A four-week session of the U.N.'s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, ended in Geneva on March 28, 2014, with a series of humiliating defeats for the president's calling card of indiscriminate engagement. Here are some lowlights:
-The Council was unable to make a single decision, resolution or even collective statement about the Russian invasion and violation of human rights in Ukraine.
-The Council adopted five times more resolutions condemning Israel than any other UN member state (and nothing at all for 184 of 193 countries).
-The Council adopted a resolution intended to target the United States on "remotely piloted aircraft or drones..."
-The Council adopted another Islamic group attack on free speech. The phony title of the resolution was: "combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief."
-Losses aimed at Western pocketbooks included: a Cuban-led resolution on "the effects of foreign debt," and an African-led resolution on "non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin."
-Iran led a resolution on "enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights." The European Union joined consensus "in a spirit of compromise." The Obama administration did the same.
April 3, 2014
During its March 2014 session the UN Human Rights Council was scheduled to appoint, among other experts, a new UN "independent" expert on Israel to replace Richard Falk. Falk had been thoroughly discredited for his extreme anti-Israel and anti-American bias, as well as his bizarre 9/11 conspiracy views and abhorrent displays of antisemitism.
The process for appointment is as follows. Candidates for UN independent human rights experts, also called "Special Procedures," are first vetted by a UN Human Rights Council Consultative Group, a geographically diverse or cross-regional group composed of five state representatives. The Consultative Group submits to the President of the Council a list of candidates "who possess the highest qualifications for the mandates in question and meet the general criteria and particular requirements". On the basis of the recommendations of the Consultative Group and following consultations, the President selects one candidate and presents it to the Council for approval.
In February 2014 the Consultative Group recommended that Christina Cerna, a prominent international human rights lawyer, become the next UN Special Rapporteur on Israel and replace Richard Falk. However, on March 3, 2014 the President of the Council refused to accept the Consultative Group's recommendation and published a list of all the candidates he had chosen for all the Special Procedures appointments except for the Special Rapporteur on Israel. He left it blank.
Then on March 6, 2014 the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) objected to the top candidate proposed by the Group because of the absence of known anti-Israel bias. Pakistan, acting on behalf of the OIC, circulated a letter which said:
In 2009 more than 100,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka by government forces during the conflict with the Tamils. In May 2009 the UN "Human Rights" Council adopted a one-sided resolution praising the Sri Lanka government for respecting human rights during the conflict.
In 2012 the Council adopted a resolution which considered a "report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission," a commission of inquiry appointed by the Sri Lankan president. It merely requested the Office of the High Commissioner to present a report on "on advice and technical assistance for the Government of Sri Lanka on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka."
In 2013 the Council adopted a resolution which considered that report of the High Commissioner and "expressed concern at the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka.
In 2014 - five years after the criminal acts - the Council has introduced an international element into the inquiry. The resolution, entitled "Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka," and adopted on March 27, 2014, requests the Office of the High Commissioner "to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations and of the crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders".
The text also calls upon the government of Sri Lanka to investigate itself some more. It "calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law," leaving the door open for more foot dragging on the part of Sri Lanka.
On March 27, 2014 the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on free speech driven by the United States. The resolution extended by three years the job of the UN "expert" investigator on free expression. and contained a job description. Entitled "Freedom of Opinion and Expression: mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression," the final product of the U.S.-led effort has a number of disturbing elements.
The final version of the adopted resolution incorporates limits to free speech by slyly referring to Council resolution 7/36 of March 28, 2008. But Resolution 7/36 undermined free expression by requiring the rapporteur to "report on instances" of "the abuse of the right of freedom of expression [that] constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination." The U.S. originally introduced the draft of the free speech resolution on March 4, 2014 without the reference to resolution 7/36. This indicates that the Obama administration put the free speech curbs back in after they determined the resolution would not be adopted by consensus unless amended.
Another worrying element of the resolution, as adopted, is a reference to "resolution 5/2 on the Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the Council." That resolution was adopted by the Council back in June 2007. The "Code of Conduct," imposed by the Council on all human rights investigators, emphasizes the importance of "the elimination of...politicization," and "cooperation," and demands that "the work of the Council shall be guided by the principles of non-selectivity..." All of these phrases are routinely invoked by the world's worst human rights abusers to avoid scrutiny of their human rights records. The U.S. agreed to add the mention of the Code of Conduct only after the Russians - supported by Belarus, China, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Namibia, South Africa and Venezuela - threatened to adopt an amendment which would have imposed it.
March 31, 2014
On March 27, 2014 the UN Human Rights Council adopted the draft resolution entitled "Mandate of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights" introduced by Cuba and supported by some of the world's worst violators of human rights.
The resolution states that "debt burden ... is a serious impediment to the realization of all human rights" and extends the mandate of the Independent Expert for a period of three years. It was supported by countries like Angola, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, "Palestine", Sudan and Venezuela. The text was adopted with 30 votes on favor, 3 abstentions and 14 against (the U.S., Republic of Korea, Japan, Montenegro, Macedonia and the EU countries).