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Resources updated between Monday, May 09, 2011 and Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 13, 2011

May 12, 2011

May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on The Weekly Standard.

The Obama administration has been under siege for its support of the U.N.'s top human rights body, the U.N. Human Rights Council. Until today, Syria was seeking to join the Council during elections scheduled to take place at the General Assembly on May 20, 2011. The administration, European states, and other Council fans were already reeling from Libya's election last May and were desperately looking for a way to save the Council from oblivion. The solution is to replace Syria with Kuwait. Obviously, the anybody-but-Syria campaign spent little time considering the suitability of their replacement candidate.

Kuwait is hardly qualified to serve on the Human Rights Council. According to recent reports of Freedom House and the State Department, there is no rule of law in Kuwait. There is no independent judiciary. The emir appoints all judges. The emir has the authority to dissolve the National Assembly at will. Formal political parties are banned. Women are required to have a male guardian in order to marry. Women are eligible for a half of their brother's inheritance. Spousal rape is not a crime. The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence. Vacationers have spent months in jails if airport officials hear them "insulting the emir."

In other words, Kuwait will fit right in with current Human Rights Council member Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the world's leading example of a gender apartheid state, with its entire female population subjected to male domination and grotesque forms of subservience. Not to mention the periodic beheadings which are part of the Saudi judicial system and the illegality of any public display of a religion other than Islam.

But Saudi Arabia had no difficulty at all of being elected by the General Assembly to the Council, garnering a whopping 154 of 191 votes cast in May 2009. Nor are members Cuba, China, and Kyrgyzstan worried about their tenure, despite the fact that these states bear no resemblance to democratic societies. Syria was simply unlucky enough to have killed a few too many people just prior to election season. The billion Chinese subject to a lifetime of atrocities haven't been quite as fortunate.

Iran wanted to run for a seat on the Human Rights Council during the last election in 2010. The solution to the delicate problem at that time with the approval of the Obama administration was to give Iran a seat on the U.N.'s top women's rights body instead. As of March 2011, Iran is happily ensconced as a member of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

Nobody is saying what consolation prize Syria will be awarded for withdrawing its Council bid, under the U.N.'s twisted notions of entitlement and desert. The Arab League likely also had a hand in crafting the Kuwait-for-Syria deal. But there is a deafening silence about what the Obama administration might have offered the Arab League for its role. Regardless, the diplomatic endgame appears to have been all smoke and mirrors.

Council membership is divided among five regional groups, and Kuwait will replace Syria as a candidate from the Asian group (primarily because the Arab League has laid claim to at least three seats in the Asian allotment). All Arab states are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and with Kuwait's election OIC countries will compose 69 percent of the Council members from the Asian group. OIC countries will also continue to make up a majority of the members from the African group. Since the Council is organized so that the Asian and African groups taken together represent 55 percent of the total membership, Islamic states will continue to hold the balance of power.

Muslim domination of the Council has translated into a body which over its ignominious lifetime has adopted at least as many resolutions and decisions condemning Israel as all other 191 UN member states combined. The Kuwait-Syria switcheroo may change the optics for those who haven't noticed or don't care about Kuwait's abysmal human rights record, but it will mean absolutely nothing in terms of substance.

Monday, May 09, 2011

This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on Fox News.

The response to the death of Usama bin Laden by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, and two "experts" appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council ought to be ringing a lot of alarm bells right now.

Just last month, Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations told Congress that "when we meet our financial obligations to the U.N., we make Americans safer."

On the contrary, U.N. reaction to Bin Laden's death indicates that the Obama administration's warm embrace of the organization is endangering American lives.

The U.N.'s top human rights official took time this past week to concern herself about the treatment Bin Laden received as he was killed. She demanded to know "the precise facts surrounding his killing" for the purpose of determining its legality. According to Pillay, "counter-terrorism compliance with international law" means "you're not commit extra-judicial killings." And this requirement would only be satisfied if the Americans had stuck by what she claimed was their " arrest bin Laden if they could."

On Friday, two professors and part-time U.N. "experts," Christof Heyns and Martin Scheinin, issued a joint statement on Bin Laden's killing. The two academics claimed that "the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals, through legal processes of arrest, trial and judicially-decided punishment." They also insisted that the U.N. was entitled to receive "more facts" "to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards." Those standards would be violated, they claimed, unless "the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture Bin Laden."

The suggestion from these U.N. authority-figures that America is criminally at fault for killing Bin Laden if their terms have not been satisfied is both offensive and legally false.

Under the laws of war, combatants are a "legitimate" target for attack. A protocol to the Geneva Conventions defines a legitimate military target as one "which...makes an effective contribution to military action and whose...destruction...offers a definite military advantage." This description fits Usama bin Laden. Bin Laden's killing was, therefore, a justifiable homicide and incurs no liability. There was no necessity that the Navy SEALs must have intended to arrest him or make an effort to capture him alive.

In the minds of those at the U.N, however, the life-and-death struggle to defend freedom from Islamic terrorists is occurring in a vacuum. They insist that the applicable legal regime is international human rights law which considers the single individual and prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of life, requires due process and condemns anything else as "extrajudicial" killing. Their response to the laws of warfare is: "what war?"

So here we are. The world's most wanted terrorist is finally dead and U.N. actors are questioning his death in the name of human rights.

Scheinin's full U.N. job title is self-explanatory. He is the "rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism." Promoting human rights is one side of the ledger and countering terrorism is allegedly on the other side.

Finding the United Nations on the opposite side from the effort by democracies to protect human rights in the real world is not an isolated phenomenon.

The United Nations still has no definition of terrorism. Standing in the way of a universally-agreed definition are the 22 members of the Arab League and the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Each of these groups has signed on to an "anti-terrorism" treaty that represents the culmination of their agreed ideology on the subject. The Arab Terrorism Convention, for example, exempts from its idea of terrorism everything from suicide-bombing to slitting the throats of 3-month old babies under the umbrella of "all cases of struggle by whatever means...against foreign occupation and aggression for liberation and self-determination."

As a result, on May 2, 2011 the Security Council issued a unanimous presidential statement on Bin Laden's death which was very careful to "reaffirm...other applicable international counter-terrorism instruments." After all, Council members currently include a representative of a terrorist organization, since Lebanon's government is controlled by Hezbollah.

The U.N.'s post-9/11 counter-terrorism centerpiece is its "Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy", adopted by the General Assembly in 2006. Its very first section is a promise "to undertake...measures aimed at addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism." More specifically, the U.N. worried first and foremost about "youth unemployment, ...marginalization and the subsequent sense of victimization" of terrorist wannabes.

Consequently, the Security Council presidential statement on Bin Laden's death immediately changed the subject from his demise to demanding the world "address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism." And they weren't talking about hate, intolerance, antisemitism, and just plain evil acts.

Of course, Bin Laden, himself puts the lie to this diplomatic claptrap since the world's number one terrorist was a man of wealth from a privileged background.

U.N. double-talk on terrorism has reached a new low with the grotesque suggestion that the killing of Usama bin Laden violated his human rights. And handing the U.N. more than 6 billion dollars of taxpayer money each year, leaves Americans far less safe.