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Resources updated between Monday, April 10, 2006 and Sunday, April 16, 2006

Friday, April 14, 2006

On April 10th the UN Disarmament Commission elected Iran as one of its Vice-Chairpersons.

Afterwards, the UN's Under Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuaki Tanaka, said the Commission "played a unique role" with "the advantage of being a fully universal deliberative body." This is the UN fiction which brings us closer to nuclear war with each passing day. The allusion is to universal democracy, though the majority of voters are non-democratic and include thugs, racists and war-mongers.

The Indonesian representative speaking for the so-called Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which holds the balance of power in all universal UN bodies, praised the Commission's importance and the UN framework. He then maintained non-proliferation should be chained to disarmament.

Bringing up the rear was the new Iranian Vice-Chairperson. Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi sought to reassure his UN comrades about Iran's disinterest in acquiring nuclear weapons by stating: "the national security of non-nuclear-weapon States was in deep jeopardy." A not-so-subtle indication of the rationale behind Iran's sprint to the nuclear arms finish-line.

On April 10th the UN Disarmament Commission elected Iran as one of its Vice-Chairpersons.

Afterwards, the UN's Under Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuaki Tanaka, said the Commission "played a unique role" with "the advantage of being a fully universal deliberative body." This is the UN fiction which brings us closer to nuclear war with each passing day. The allusion is to universal democracy, though the majority of voters are non-democratic and include thugs, racists and war-mongers.

Believe it or not: Iran Becomes UN Disarmament Leader Editor's Note

Tiananmen Square

China has made a pledge as a candidate for the new UN Human Rights Council. Declare the Chinese: "The National People's Congress has adopted nearly 300 laws and regulations...ensuring complete freedom of the Chinese people in movement, employment, access to information, religious belief and ways of life." News to the Dalai Lama, the millions who can't get in or out of the country, any internet user who has the audacity to type in "human rights." But there is no doubt that the so-called new and improved UN human rights body will include China.

China Pledge for UN Human Rights Council Elections, April 13, 2006 Development

Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

Another UN Security Council failure to deal seriously with Sudan. (AB)

Security Council Press Statement on Chad and Darfur Development

Mohamed ElBaradei

The UN's chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed ElBaradei, is still in a fog about Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Said ElBaradei, "We have not seen diversion of nuclear material for weapons purposes, but the picture is still hazy and not very clear." And the prospect of a world without nuclear war is supposed to depend on the UN? (AB)

Iran vows no 'retreat' on its nukes Article

Riyad Mansour

Arab states at the UN lose a round in their effort to thwart Israel's self-defence activities against Palestinian terrorism. For now Palestinian UN Observer Riyad Mansour will have to content himself writing letters to the Security Council about "martyrs" who aim their weapons at Israeli civilians. (AB)

US blocks UN draft pressing Israel to end attacks Article

April 13, 2006

Kofi Annan

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan pushing the world one step closer to a nuclear Iran. He suggests "both" sides - Iran and its nuclear weapons ambitions on one side, UN members serious about sanctioning Iran on the other side - need to cool down. The SG's game plan? Take the heat off Iran. And stall, until a nuclear Iran is a fait accompli.

Analysis: U.N., Security Council and Iran Article

April 12, 2006

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

In an unprecedented travesty, even by UN standards, Iran has been elected as a Vice-Chairperson of the UN Disarmament Commission. The job of the Commission, as its title might suggest, was supposed to have something to do with disarmament. But one of its new Vice-Chairs is the world's number one advocate of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Disarmament Commission Opens Current Session (press release) Development

Lantos versus Bayefsky on UN Human Rights Council

Unrelenting UN campaign to blame Israel for Palestinians' election of a government dedicated to genocide and the inevitable consequences of the terrorism they sponsor and support.

UN Institutions Warn of Disaster in Palestine Article

Karen Koning AbuZayd

UNRWA campaign against Israel mounts despite the pretense of hapless UN neutral. The UN story-line: Israel is the evil perpetrator, Palestinians are the passive victims. Israel is responsible for Palestinian woes. No responsibility on Palestinians for tolerating and harboring terrorists in their midst, for destroying the farms and greenhouses that Israelis left behind in Gaza, for electing a government sworn to genocide against Jews. Until the fiction is no longer tolerated by American taxpayers funding UNRWA, Palestinians have little incentive to change the self-defeating dynamic.

UNRWA: Counting Down to a Crisis in Gaza (press release) Document

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Bush administration had every reason to decide not to run for a seat on the new UN Human Rights Council. The election is fast becoming a nightmare and there was every reason not to lend credibility to the charade.

There is not a single substantive criterion, such as actually respecting human rights, required for membership on the Council. In the words of a UN document released April 4th: "the membership of the Council shall be open to all Member States of the United Nations."

The document also makes painfully clear who will own the UN's human rights agenda:

The membership shall be based on equitable geographical distribution and seats shall be distributed among the regional groups as follows:
African Group 13
Asian Group 13
Eastern European Group 6
Latin American and Caribbean Group 8
Western European and Others Group (WEOG) 7
Total 47

In other words, the central human rights body of the UN will include countries which have no interest in human rights protection, and the regions of the world with the fewest democracies will hold 55% of the seats or the balance of power.

As for the candidates, they already include Algeria, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Throughout the UN apparatus there is a frenzied campaign to portray literally anything as a success. One hears: Sudan and Zimbabwe (former Commission members) have not decided to run - Iran may not be elected - and of course, the perennial favorite, "it's Ambassador John Bolton's fault."

So let us consider a few of the candidates' credentials for the UN's central human rights body. While Iran is best known for recently advocating the annihilation of 5 million Jews living in Israel, the State Department 2005 annual human rights report reminds us of the Iranian legal system. In 2005 it involved sentences of death by stoning of women for adultery, the surgical removal of eyes, and the amputation of feet.

How about Algeria? The State Department 2005 Annual Report on Religious Freedom informs us: "The law prohibits public assembly for purposes of practicing a faith other than Islam. The Government requires organized religions to submit and obtain official recognition prior to conducting any religious activities. The number of "house churches," where members meet secretly in the homes of fellow members for fear of exposure or because they cannot finance the construction of a church, has increased. Since 1994, the size of the Jewish community has diminished to virtual nonexistence due to fears of terrorist violence, and the synagogue in Algiers has been closed. Due to safety concerns and potential legal and social problems, Muslim converts practice their new faith clandestinely."

And by the way, Algeria continues to deny requests for visits from the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the UN Special Rapporteur (investigator) on Torture, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Executions.

Saudi Arabia? A million female migrant workers living in conditions of virtual slavery. And of course women can't vote, drive, or dress themselves in clothing of their own choice.

In what can only be considered a laughable twist, countries standing for election can voluntarily make a public pledge to protect human rights eventually. The UN, for reasons which became abundantly clear as soon as the Algerians and the Cubans made their pledges, has decided against translation and will only make them available in their original language. So far, 22 states of the 53 declared candidates have made pledges to be good little countries in the future. And only one is from either the African or Asian region, the states that hold the 55% Council majority.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist issued a press release April 6th applauding the President's "principled stand" which will help "deny the Council unwarranted legitimacy." But he went further, "My hope is that President Bush will consider establishing a council of democracies outside of the U.N. system that could meet regularly to truly monitor, examine and expose human rights abuses around the globe."

The time has come to do just that.

Anne Bayefsky

The Bush administration had every reason to decide not to run for a seat on the new UN Human Rights Council. The election is fast becoming a nightmare and there was every reason not to lend credibility to the charade.

There is not a single substantive criterion, such as actually respecting human rights, required for membership on the Council. In the words of a UN document released April 4th: "the membership of the Council shall be open to all Member States of the United Nations."

The Elections to the "new" UN Human Rights Council Editor's Note

April 10, 2006

Kofi Annan

The Secretary General once again can't bring himself to use that central fact of international law called "self defense" --when it comes to Israel. He calls it "reprisals". He talks about "endanger[ing] the civilian population". He ignores the Geneva Conventions which do not grant immunity to military targets or terrorists using civilians as human shields. The Convention prohibits the disproportionate use of force, that is, an attack on a military target "which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life" when "excessive." The Convention is clear that the presence of "civilians shall not be used to render . . . areas immune from military operations. . . . in attempts to shield military objectives from attack." None of which is ever applied to Israel by Kofi Annan.

Statement of the Secretary-General on "violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory" Development

Shashi Tharoor

UN's Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor says democracy cannot be "imposed" on "unwilling" or "unready" societies. Cold comfort for the downtrodden and oppressed the world over, but it does reflect the current reality of priorities at the UN.

'India should contest for non-permanent UN seat' Article