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From: email@example.com (Beacon) Newsgroups: alt.law-enforcement,alt.politics.org.fbi,misc.legal,us.legal,uk.legal Subject: Anne Bayefsky (Columbia Law School). "Why we shouldn't trust the UN." Date: 13 Oct 2003 15:16:39 -0700 Organization: http://groups.google.com Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> NNTP-Posting-Host: 184.108.40.206 NNTP-Posting-Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003 22:16:40 +0000 (UTC) George W. Bush in 2004! Anne Bayefsky (Columbia Law School). "Why we shouldn't trust the UN." Professor Anne Bayefsky (Columbia Law School). "Why we shouldn't trust the UN." The Globe and Mail. 4/26/2002. p. A21. Israel's concern over United Nations investigators in Jenin is projected worldwide as one of human-rights violator versus independent arbiter. Does the UN's record in the investigation and assessment of human-rights violations bear out this image? A few days ago, the UN Human Rights Commission defeated for the first time in 17 years the resolution condemning human-rights violations in Iran. It thereby deleted the post of UN Special Representative on Iran (currently held by Canadian law professor Morris Copithorne) that had been charged with investigating Iranian abuses. The representative's 2002 report expressed concern with failure to comply with standards in the administration of justice, the absence of due process of law and respect for religious minorities, systematic discrimination against women, and the killings of intellectuals and political activists. For the past six years, Iran refused to co-operate with the representative and denied him entry into the country. The result was that the UN commission, rather than condemning Iran, removed the representative. This is not an isolated UN phenomenon. Within the past two weeks, the UN Human Rights Commission terminated the mandate of the UN Special Representative on Equatorial Guinea contrary to his recommendations, defeated the draft resolution that would have set up an independent inquiry on Chechnya, and passed a "no-action motion" on a resolution requesting on-site examination of human-rights abuses in Zimbabwe (defeating the substantive resolution before it came to a vote). With the United States off the commission this year, no state had the courage to even put forward for discussion a resolution on China. This year is not an aberration. In the three decades in which the UN Human Rights Commission has passed resolutions on specific states, there has never been a single resolution on countries such as Syria or China. In the past five years alone, complaints to the UN of "a pattern of gross and reliably attested human-rights violations" against Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen have all been dropped behind closed doors during commission sessions. The UN Secretary-General told the commission two weeks ago that "the UN cannot afford to be neutral" in the face of wanton disregard for human rights. But other than a handful of states, the UN's "neutrality" on specific human-rights situations has been deafening. The UN human-rights legal system, in place through a series of treaties for 30 years, officially registers fewer than 100 cases annually. The Council of Europe, while covering a fraction of the population, registers 14,000 applications a year. The UN's record on Israel, by contrast, tells a markedly different story. Almost 30 per cent of UN Human Rights Commission resolutions on specific states over a 35-year period are on Israel alone. Of 10 emergency special sessions in the history of the General Assembly, six have concerned Israel. The UN currently operates three mechanisms focused only on Israel: a Special Rapporteur since 1993, a Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Human Rights since 1968 that issues three reports a year, and a Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, established in 1975 on the same day the General Assembly passed the Zionism-is-racism resolution and still producing annual reports. Each one of these UN bodies refuses to document the range of human-rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority. In his 2002 report, the Special Rapporteur specifically applauded his artificially truncated mandate to investigate allegations of human-rights violations only by Israel. Israel is the only UN member not permitted to stand for election to the full range of UN bodies. So while membership of the UN Human Rights Commission now includes Cuba, Libya, Sudan and Syria -- four of the seven states designated as state sponsors of international terrorism by the U.S. State Department -- Israel cannot even be a candidate. The other side of the same coin is the UN's record on the human right to be free of anti-Semitism. From 1975 to 1991, the self-determination of the Jewish people, Zionism, was racism, according to the General Assembly. At the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, "anti-Semitism" was omitted from the final declaration because the chair of the drafting committee said it was too controversial. In 1995, the General Assembly adopted a declaration in connection with the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and rejected mention of the "Holocaust" as a consensus-breaker. Overtly anti-Semitic remarks are voiced in UN Human Rights Commission proceedings, whose resolutions speak of the "Judaization" of Jerusalem. In recent years, Jewish non-governmental organizations, such as Hadassah, have repeatedly been singled out for differential treatment in their efforts to get formal accreditation to participate in UN meetings. Three days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the UN Durban World Conference Against Racism systematically deleted almost all references to Jewish victims of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. The subsequent racism discussion at the General Assembly in February deleted reference to "anti-Semitism" as a specific concern of the UN Third Decade to Combat Racism. In practice, human rights at the UN is a highly selective term attached only to victims deemed worthy for political ends, ends often directly antithetical to the protection of human rights. Only last week in the name of human rights, the UN Human Rights Commission sanctioned the use of "all available means" -- that is, suicide bombing -- as a legitimate tactic against Israelis. So when the UN comes calling to investigate a human-rights situation with Israel as its target, its ability to be fair has to be proved, not assumed. Since the UN refuses to define terrorism, the willingness of the Jenin fact-finding team to include in its consideration of "events" the terrorist infrastructure and its activities in Jenin is consequently not a foregone conclusion. So the real issue is, why are U.S. decision-makers now serving up Israel as fodder for the Security Council, and why are they deluded into thinking this engagement of the council won't come back to haunt them? Anne Bayefsky is a visiting professor at Columbia University Law School and a member of the governing board of Geneva-based UN Watch.
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