17 June 2007

Moment of Truth

UNHRCThe chairman of the disreputable United Nations Human Rights Council has today presented its members with a "take-it-or-leave-it" ultimatum on a proposed new set of rules for how it will operate.

The 47-state Human Rights Council, launched in 2006 to replace its discredited predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, has until Monday night to complete year-long negotiations on how it will work. However, given its decision earlier this year to end routine scrutiny of human rights abuses in places like Iran and Uzbekistan, and its failure to condemn human rights abuses occurring anywhere around the world except in Israel, we ought to be asking what point there is in financing such a body.

Very sensibly, the United States is not a council member, rightly maintaining it is no improvement over its heavily politicised predecessor. Given that the best anyone has to say of the planned rules is that, if agreed, "the council will really not be too bad" even though "all could find something to object to," is Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico really inviting us all to leave the council? Whether or not that is what he means, if we truly want our foreign policy to have an ethical dimension, I suggest we would be better off following America's lead and instead investing in groups such as the Prague Democracy and Security Conference.