The U.N. human-rights charade
Aug 14, 2003
It is not exactly breaking news that the United Nations does as much harm as good on the world stage. The world body's history of coddling tyrants at the expense of democracies long ago eroded most of its claim to the moral high ground. This summer, we have new evidence to remind the world of the folly of assuming a moral equivalence of all governments. Under pressure from Cuba and Libya, the U.N. Economic and Social Council suspended all cooperation between its Commission on Human Rights and Reporters Without Borders. The problem is that the latter took a stand in defense of human rights. Only at the United Nations could Tripoli and Havana have such persuasive ability.
The vote to end the consultative relationship Reporters Without Borders had with the commission was in retaliation for a report the journalists' group published that criticizes the U.N.'s human-rights charade. Among their reasonable observations that are seen as offensive by the majority of the council's member states are that Cuba is "the world's biggest prison" and "that granting the chair to Col. [Muammar] Gaddafi's regime has been a disgrace to the commission." To address the lack of legitimacy at the U.N. human-rights office, the reporters offer a platform for reform, including a provision to prohibit voting rights to thug states.
It is telling what nations voted for and against Reporters Without Borders. On the side of Cuba and Libya were China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the Congo, Pakistan and South Africa, as well as 17 other governments that are equally as respectful of the rule of law. Voting to defend a free press and against the joke that Libya chairs the human-rights commission were the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy and 19 other freedom-loving countries, including a handful that used to be behind the Iron Curtain and thus have a keen sense of oppression.
The fact that a U.N. council is split 27-23 over transparency with the media serves as a reminder that freedom of the press is not something to be taken for granted in a large part of the world. We are barely past the midpoint of 2003, and already this year, 20 members of the media have been killed and approximately 200 imprisoned. In these causes, the United Nations should be squarely on the side of human rights and the right to a free press. If U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan really wants to be seen as the moral force he claims to be, he might want to start by cleaning up his own house. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_1745.shtml
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