Where are the Greens on other members of the Human Rights Council?

October 30th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

Last week, the Green Party asked Prime Minister John Key in Parliament to confirm or deny New Zealand’s support for Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

Late last week Mr Key refused to confirm or deny New Zealand’s support, saying that was the responsibility of the foreign minister.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said it would be wrong for New Zealand to support Australia’s bid for a seat on the world’s top human rights body when Australia had ”time and time again” been found to have breached international human rights requirements.

Australia is a paragon of respect for human rights compared to the vast majority of the Human Rights Council.

Why do the Greens beat up on Australia (whom of course we would support), and say nothing about Nigeria, Qatar, Morocco, South Africa, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kenya, Pakistan, UAE, Venuzuela etc. These countries all have appalling human rights records that make Australia look saintly by comparison.

Personally I think the UNHRC is a sad joke. Less of a joke than its totally discredited predecessor, but its membership includes some of the worst human rights violators around, and it spends most of its existence condemning Israel. They have condemned Israel 57 times, and no other country has been condemned – at most countries like Sudan get a note of serious concern.

Their special rapporteur on Palestine is so extreme even Fatah have called on him to resign, as they see him as too pro-Hamas. He has posted anti-semitic cartoons on Facebook yet refused to resign.

And guess who has just been appointed the head of the UNHRC panel that appoints independent experts – Saudi Arabia.


Told you the Greens would adopt them as policy

February 8th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I joked that the long list of requests from the UN Human Rights Council (which has some of the worst global abusers of human rights on it) would probably end up as Green Party policy.

My joke may become reality, with Green MP Jan Logie saying we should be concerned that there were 155 recommendations, compared to 64 last time.

I look forward to the Greens pledging to implement all 155 recommendations if they are in Government!

Law Society making crap up

February 6th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Law Society has been complaining to media that its concerns about Parliament’s use of urgency have been ignored by the government in its report to the UN Human Rights Council.

Austin Forbes said:

“No reference was made to the enactment of Bill of Rights-inconsistent legislation, to the issues with the reporting mechanism, nor to any of the Law Society’s rule of law concerns”  

In Law Talk, the NZLS Committee members Andrew Butler, Joss Opie and Peter Barnett also complained that the government had failed to highlight the issues they had raised around the rule of law:

“Disappointingly, the Law Society’s concerns were not addressed in the final report. For example, no reference was made to the enactment of Bill of Rights-inconsistent legislation, to the issues with the reporting mechanism, nor to any of the Law Society’s rule of law concerns.” 

“Part of the means by which that improvement can occur is through the quality of the process of talking about human rights issues. While the Government is, of course, entitled to disagree with the Law Society’s views, recognising those views, engaging with them, and setting out the Government’s position on them would improve the quality of the domestic and international conversation.”

So does this mean that the Government has been trying to cover up the Law Society’s criticisms? Well, no. The Law Society itself says:

“The UPR process provides for input by and consultation with non-governamental organisations. As part of this, on 17 June 2013 the New Zealand Law Society submitted a shadow report to the UN Human Rights Council.”

This is very important. The UNHRC already had a copy of their report and its concerns. Their concerns weren’t ignored by the New Zealand government – they were ignored by the United Nations. The Government responds to queries raised by member states after they have read all the submission from NGOs.

A reader has e-mailed an explanation:

 “The process for these reports is that submissions to the Office of the High Commission of Human Rights, including the NZLS shadow report and other matters raised, are summarised by OHCHR in the stakeholder report. Then it’s up to the members of the HRC to raise or not raise those matters through the question and/or recommendation procedure. In this case – of all the criticisms they chose to raise – the NZLS’s rule of law concerns didn’t interest the Council members enough to raise the matter once during their questions.”

So the Law Society’s shadow report was provided to the UN directly and summarised by the High Commission to the Council in preparation for New Zealand’s statement. Out of the 105 individual points raised by council members during New Zealand’s appearance, none were following up the Law Society’s shadow report.

Chris Finlayson was understandably unimpressed with the Law Society’s comments about being ignored:

“The Law Society has an important role to play in contributing to the creation of quality legislation,” he said in a statement.

“But it diminishes its standing by continually crying wolf over non-existent human rights issues that really just reflect the personal taste of some of its members.”

Given the rest of the advice that the members of the Council gave New Zealand, I think if there had been any human rights issues in the Law Society’s report, they would have been seized on eagerly. It is rather sad that the Law Society takes a cheap shot at the Government when the ones they should be blaming is themselves for writing a submission so lacking in effectiveness that they couldn’t get a single member of 47 strong UN Human Rights Council to think their issues were worth raising.


Some recommendations from the UN Human Rights Council

February 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

New Zealand has just had its human rights records reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council. This august body includes the governments of Algeria, China, Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Libya, Maldives, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

So what are some of the things they recommend for New Zealand:

  • Continue its reflections and work with a view to having a written Constitution (Benin)
  • Incorporate economic and social rights in its Human Rights charter (Togo)
  • Continue to address all forms of political, economic and social discrimination against the Māori and Pacific population by meeting their various demands for constitutional and legal reforms and recognition (Somalia)
  • Increase its official development aid to reach the international norm of 0.7 per cent of GDP (Tunisia)
  • Expedite the development of a new Māori language strategy (Bangladesh)
  • Implement effective measures to achieve the aim of increasing the participation of women in governance to 45 per cent in the public sector and over ten per cent in the private sector by 2014 (Australia);
  • Consider relinquishing the use of electric taser weapons by the police (Namibia)
  • Establish appropriate national strategies with the aim to identify and address structural discrimination in the justice system (Iran (Islamic Republic of))

Wonderfully helpful. They’ve written the Green Party manifesto for them!

A sick farce

November 14th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday won three-year seats on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, the United Nations’ top rights body, despite concerns about abuses and restrictions on freedoms in all four nations.

Some aspects of the UN are very worthwhile, but the Human Rights Council is not one of them.

According to U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based advocacy group that monitors the United Nations, only four of the 16 candidates for the 14 open seats were qualified to be members of the council on the basis of their human rights records. They were Britain, France, Macedonia and Mexico.

I have always liked the idea of a new UN – one open to democratic and non-repressive countries only.

Iran and Syria had been planning to run for the Human Rights Council but pulled out amid criticism of their rights records.

A small mercy.

Not PC on Israel

October 1st, 2009 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Not PC has a good blog on the Israeli PM’s speech to the UN.

Netanyahu challenged the delegates to see the Iranian leadership for what it is. He challenged them too over Gaza.

For years, Arab and Middle-Eastern countries have berated Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, but refused entry for Palestinian refugees to their own countries. They prefer to hate Israel rather than help their neighbours – hatred which the UN has supported. And for years, the United Nations has stood by in silence while aggressor after aggressor has attacked Israel, and stood up in condemnation only when Israel has fought back to defend its very life.

The United Nations stood by with its eyes closed while Iran armed Hezbollah guerrillas with rockets, which they poured into Israel from the North over the heads of mute UN observers.

It stood in silence for years as Palestinians smuggled Iranian-supplied rockets into Gaza, and said nothing as Palestinian guerrillas (backed by their government) fired the rockets into Israel from bases located in schools, in hospitals, in mosques, and from the middle of densely packed housing.

And some extracts from the speech itself:

Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants.  Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee.  There, on January 20, 1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people.  The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments.

Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews.   Is this a lie?

A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.  Those plans are signed by Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself.  Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered.  Is this too a lie?

I get very nervous when the someone who denies the Holocaust occured, pledges to wipe out Israel and is developing nuclear weapons.

One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration.  Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own.  My wife’s grandparents, her father’s two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis.  Is that also a lie?

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium.  To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you.  You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

Thank God, the NZ delegation walked out.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame?  Have you no decency?  A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state. What a disgrace!  What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations!

Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews.  You’re wrong.  History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.


In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza.  It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis.  We didn’t get peace.  Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv.   Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare.

You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent. Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond.

And the worst thing about what happened, is it destroyed the incentive for Israel to give up more land. I support Israel giving up land for peace. But Israel gave up land and in return got more rocket attacks, from closer to their major population centres! Is it any wonder peace is so hard, when doing the right thing results in more violence, not less.

But how should we have responded?  Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country’s civilian population.  It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II.

During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties.   Israel chose to respond differently.  Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians – Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances. Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas.  We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave.

Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy’s civilian population from harm’s way.   Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel.

I’m not saying Israel was blameless with its response, but he is correct that they have gone to greater lengths than any other country to minimise civilian deaths. They are inevitable when you respond, but not responding isn’t much of an option.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals.  What a perversion of truth!  What a perversion of justice!

Oh I have no doubt today, that today’s UN Human Rights Council would condemn both Roosevelt and Churchill.

Dom Post on free speech

April 6th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A great editorial from the Dom Post:

Despots and dictators are expected to come up with reasons to limit free speech. The United Nations isn’t.

That is why it is abhorrent that the UN’s top human rights body has approved a proposal urging countries to pass laws to protect religion from criticism. Its Human Rights Council voted to accept a resolution proposed by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference calling for a global fight against “defamation of religions”. It singles out Islam as a victim. “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism”, the resolution states.

The problem is the despots and dictators are all on the Human Rights Council. They see its job as to protect their rights to be despots and dictators.

It will have little practical impact in the West, because it will not be put into practice. However, it should not be ignored. Its critics which include a coalition of 186 secular, Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups rightly see it as an attempt to give legitimacy to the anti-blasphemy laws that theocratic Muslim regimes use to stifle dissent and persecute non-Muslims. It is born of the same philosophy that regarded it as appropriate to issue a fatwa in effect, a death sentence against author Salman Rushdie for his book The Satanic Verses, which was ruled to be blasphemy against Islam.

It is terrible that any country has a law that makes it a criminal offence to change your religion, let alone one carrying the death penalty.

It also, as the coalition has pointed out, alters the very notion of human rights. Those rights are meant to protect individuals from harm. They are not meant to protect beliefs from critical inquiry. The resolution, if taken seriously, would damage freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion in any country that adopted it, and that is why protests against it should be loud and long. Too often the West has mumbled, shuffled and looked the other way when its core values are attacked. It needs to take the same pride in the principles that underpin its culture as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference does in its, and push them with the same vigour. Freedom of speech is worth fighting for, rather than surrendering to those more determined in their world view.

I could not agree more. This is why every newspaper in the world should have published the Danish cartoons, rather than cower behind threats of violence and trade sanctions.

Back home in New Zealand, I would love to see the Government appoint a “Free Speech Commissioner” to the Human Rights Commission. Their job would be to fight against censorship, support a free media etc etc.

Against that background, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has made the right call in withdrawing New Zealand’s bid for a place on the Human Rights Council, freeing up a spot for the US. As Mr McCully observed when he announced the decision, “by any objective measure, membership of the council by the US is more likely to create positive changes more quickly than we could have hoped to achieve them”.

Even for a country with the diplomatic heft of the US, that is a big task. The council’s predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, dissolved because it had lost all credibility. The council is showing all the signs of going down the same shameful road.

Yes it was a good call, and yes Obama will probably fail also – but good on him for trying to save the Human Rights Council from indeed going down the same shameful path as its predecessor.

Yay – we are free

April 1st, 2009 at 10:56 am by David Farrar

I blogged two days ago that there was a potential huge win-win if NZ withdrew from the race for a place on the thoroughly discredited Human Rights Council, as the Obama administration was clean to re-engage with it, and reform it (I doubt anyone can but good on Obama for trying).

Murray McCully seemingly agrees, and has announced NZ is withdrawing to make room for the US.

New Zealand has decided not to pursue its candidature for election to the Human Rights Council in 2009, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced today.

Mr McCully said the decision had been made to avoid four nations contesting three positions, following the United States’ indication that it would seek a Council seat.

This will gain us some serious kudos with the Obama Administration. They will repay the favour at some stage. So we gain a big IOU from the most powerful country on Earth, and best of all the concession is something we should have done anyway.

“The Human Rights Council has been widely criticised. It was our intention, in seeking election, to provide a force for change and improvement. However we believe that US membership of the Council will strengthen it, and make it more effective.

“That is in the interests of all those who, like New Zealand, want to see the Council respond robustly and effectively to human rights violations wherever they occur.

“Frankly, by any objective measure, membership of the Council by the US is more likely to create positive changes more quickly than we could have hoped to achieve them.

“This decision was not taken lightly but we see New Zealand’s standing aside as being in the best interests of the advancement of international human rights at this time.

The best interests of international human rights would be to kick all the dictatorships off the Council. But failing that, the US is going to be have a higher chance of sucess than a minnow like NZ. In some areas like the Security Council (and there I support our bid 1000%) we can play a very constructive role. But the Human Rights Council has far too many vested interests with countries actually wanting to use it to supress the right to criticise religions.

So for someone like me who saw our bid as misguided, this is an absolute win-win. But even if you are one of those optimists who thinks we could have done some good there, there is no doubt we gain far more kudos for letting the US back on and having Obama owe us one.

A potential huge win-win for NZ foreign policy

March 30th, 2009 at 7:07 pm by David Farrar

The Tailor of Panama Street blogs:

As we have posted before, New Zealand is currently running for a seat on the 57 member UN Human Rights Council.  Elections will be held in May and New Zealand is currently one of three candidates for three vacancies that will come in the Western European and Other Group (WEOG).  The other declared candidates are Norway and Belgium.

Now this is not a good thing. The HRC is just as bad as its predecessor that was abolished because it was a repulsive joke. The current Council is more into taking rights away than defending them. It is trying to make it compulsory for countries to ban virulent criticism of religion.

There are signs President Barack Obama may be about to reverse another George W. Bush policy and take a fresh look at the HRC.  Bush shunned the Council, arguing it was biased against Israel and ignored flagrant human rights abusers (indeed, many of its members fall into this categrory).   However, as part of a campaign to improve the US’s image in the world, Obama seems to be taking a more cautiously supportive line.  On 1 March, the US announced it was sending an observer to the Council’s current session, to “use the opportunity to strengthen old partnerships and forge new ones.”  Now, UN scuttlebutt suggests that the US might be looking to run for a spot on the Council in the May elections.

This is a golden opportunity.

So far, so good. There is no doubt that the Council can only benefit from having the US actively engaged. But with four candidates for three WEOG spots, someone is going to miss out.  The Progressive Realist suggests that the US has already sounded out the Belgians to see if they would step down to let Washington run unopposed. No word on this yet, but is it too cheeky to speculate whether New Zealand might offer to step aside for Washington? From Minister McCully’s point of view, wouldn’t this advance two foreign policy goals: improve relations with the new US administration and get out of the foreign affairs equivalent of a “polar bear hug”?

That would be a brillant move. It is the best of all worlds. We escape having to serve on the Council (imagine the shame as we have to explain vote after vote), the US rejoins it (the only country that can temper it a bit) and Uncle Barack and Aunt Hillary owe us a big favour.

Hopefully McCully will make the offer to withdraw to make room for the US to stand, when he meets Clinton.

Richard Falk

January 6th, 2009 at 7:00 pm by David Farrar

Not surprisingly Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn thinks Israel is the source of all evil, and he has found someone who argues that Israel is guilty of war crimes (this is the same Israel that phones people up in advance of bombing any nearby buildings). So who is the person I/S places great reliance on:

Unfortunately for them, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories – begs to differ:…

Who to believe? Random ranters, or an internationally renowned human rights expert, tasked by the UN with monitoring the implementation of international law in the area? Tough question…

Citing the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories as an internationally renowned human rights expert would make you think he was some sort of Sir Kenneth Keith (who is internationally renowned).

But this is the UN Human Rights Council at work. Arguably the most hypocritical disgusting apparatus at the UN. So when they appoint a “special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories” they actually appoint the biggest Israel hater they can find anywhere.

The rapporteur is Richard Falk. And what do we know about Mr Falk:

  1. He supported the Iranian revolution and attacked Jimmy Carter for labeling the Ayatollah Khomeini a religious fanatic. His love for Iran is shown with thsi quote “Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics, Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country”
  2. He is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist
  3. He argues that Vietnam war protesters were entitled to bomb facilities in the US as a form of protest
  4. It is no surprise then that he supports suicide bombings as a valid method of struggle.
  5. Compares Israel to Nazi Germany

So Mr Falk is a huge champion of human rights – the right to suicide bomb, and the right of that nice peaceful human rights loving Ayatollah.

His views should be given the same respect as, well what I/S calls the sewer.

Our intended companions on the UN Human Rights Council

July 7th, 2008 at 10:31 am by David Farrar

Liberty Scott takes a look at some of the company we will share if our misguided attempt to get on the UN Human Rights Council succeeds:

– Cameroon, which imprisons men suspected of homosexual activity and forcibly engages in anal examinations of them to seek evidence.
– Djibouti, which tends to arrest and imprison journalists who criticise the government in isolation wards;
– Nigeria, whose Police boast of 795 extrajudicial killings in 3 months, with politicians leading gangs of thugs who terrorise with murder, rape and arson against opponents or supporters of opponents;
– South Africa, which treats Zimbabwean refugees as purely economic migrants and facilitates the ongoing oppression in Zimbabwe;
– Bangladesh, which engages in arbitrary arrests, frequent torture in custody, extrajudicial killings, journalists accused of defaming the government or military get arrested and sometimes tortured;
– China, which arrests, tortures and executes political opponents;
– Indonesia, which imprisons people for blasphemy against Islam, arrests political activists in West Papua;
– Jordan, which strictly punishes criticism of the King and civil servants, detains women to protect them from domestic violence;
– Egypt, which arrests political opponents without trial, tortures and engages in extrajudicial killings, imprisons editors of critical newspapers, requires government approval of NGOs;
– Qatar, which requires all NGOs to be registered and are monitored and bans political protests, or membership of any organisation critical of Arab governments;
– Saudi Arabia, which arrests without charge, puts critics in solitary confinement, sentences those convicted of sodomy to up to 7000 lashes, grants the death sentence by decapitation to those as young as 13, enforces strict limits on criticism of the government and Islam, denies women the right to work, travel, study, marry, receive health care, and access government agencies, including when they seek protection or redress as victims of domestic violence, unless authorised by a father or husband, flogs rape victims for illegally associating with the opposite sex;
– Azerbaijan, which regularly tortures those arrested, arrests and shuts down opposition media and journalists;
– Russia, which engages in extrajudicial and politically motivated executions, tortures and kills young soldiers in its own army as part of hazing, NGOs are required to register and the government shuts down and threatens opposition media;
– Cuba, which suppresses all forms of political dissent, prohibits gatherings of groups, arrests and imprisons political opponents including classifying some as mental patients.

National could save us all from embarrassment by announcing it will not pursue a place on the Council. Even if the vote is before the election, the mere fact the bid does not have bipartisan support should be enough to help us fail.

Generally I support a bipartisan approach to UN issues, but really it would just be sickening to have our credibility propping up these human rights abusers as Iran (which sometimes kills women who get raped) criticises the UK for its lack of progress on sexual equality issues.

Death Penalty for blogging in Iran

July 7th, 2008 at 4:20 am by David Farrar

Boing Boing reports that Iran is bringing in the death penalty for certain types of blogging.

Yes it will be a crime to establish a blog which disturbs mental security in society. Examples are promoting corruption, prostitution or apostasy. So athiests might be up for the chop.

The proposed Act lists such blogging amongst other crimes such as rape, armed robbery and kidnapping.

Now let me remind people that Iran is a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council. The one we are trying so hard to join. Now do you think that body will ever criticise Iran? Oh no.

Hat Tip: Larvatus Prodeo

NZ speaking softly so it can join human rights abusers

July 5th, 2008 at 9:26 am by David Farrar

As I have blogged previously, New Zealand is campaigning for a spot on the UN Human Rights Council – an institution rapidly becoming as discredited as its predecessor. We should be running a mile from it, rather than cosying up to the dictators and abusers who make up a significant proportion of its membership.

Fran O’Sullivan notes that we appear to be refusing to condemn Iran’s nuclear programme, so that we do not get offside with the Islamic states whose support is needed to get elected.

The unfortunate upshot is a perception that neither politician wants to speak frankly about Iran in case New Zealand’s UN campaign is jeopardised by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference which is one of the dominant forces on the rights council.

The council – which includes a number of serial rights abusers – has been criticised by the Economist for making a fetish out of one-sided Israel bashing. Its Islamic members have succeeded in passing a resolution saying free speech could be limited out of respect for religions and beliefs.

There is an unfortunate pattern emerging. If New Zealand puts its trade interests centre-stage, but only plays a strong bat on democratic infringements when they involve small basket-cases like Fiji, what do we stand for?

If National gets elected, they should drop our bid to be on the Human Rights Council, and concentrate on UN institutions which are not as discredited.

The UN Human Rights Commission 9/11 conspiracy appointment

June 17th, 2008 at 9:16 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald carries an NZPA story on NZ’s campaign website for a seat on the Human Rights Council. Again, we should avoid any involvement with this body.

The Human Rights Council has appointed Richard Falk to a six year term as a special investigator on Israel. Falk is ideal for the job because he believes suicide bombing is a human right, and also wrote the preface for a 9/11 conspiracy book. You know the ones which say 9/11 was really done by the US Government.

But after Falk compared Israel to the Nazis, you knew his appointment was guaranteed. The Times looks at what this means:

… let’s say, for one moment, that the objective of the Human Rights Council was actually to improve human rights in, let’s further say, the occupied territories. Would you employ someone who has made utterances that ensure that all of Israeli public opinion – including that part critical of its Government – would unite 100 per cent to resist him? Of course you wouldn’t.

The implication of this logic is simple. The UN Human Rights Council doesn’t give a toss about the human rights of the Palestinians in the sense of wanting them upheld. Its majority is far more interested in using Israel as a stick to beat the US with, or – in the case of Islamic states – as a bogeyman to dampen down domestic discontent.

This is the core point. The Human rights Council has no interest in improving human rights.

So Falk thinks 9/11 was an inside job, supports suicide bombing and compares Israel to Nazi Germany. What other views does he have:

In a February 16, 1979, op-ed for the New York Times, Mr. Falk praised Ayatollah Khomeini and bemoaned his ill treatment in the American press. He wrote, “The depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.

The NY Sun goes on to note a few months later 52 diplomats were taken hostage for 444 days.

NZ’s campaign to join the abusers on the Human Rights Council

June 16th, 2008 at 3:08 pm by David Farrar

There are many worthy bodies in the UN system, that we can and should participate in. Our last spell on the Security Council was excellent for NZ and good for the UN.

However the Human Rights Council is a body we should be avoiding. Even the UN Secretary General has criticised it. Within just months it is becoming as discredited as its predecessor body. This is because they watered down all the reforms.

We can achieve nothing of use on this body. We will just get to condemn Israel several times a day, ignore Sudan, Zimbabwe and Syria and get to join Iran in telling off the United Kingdom for its treatment of women.

To my horror, not only is New Zealand standing for a spot on the Human Rights Council, we are actively campaigning for it, and have the campaign website.

Now at first I thought it was a joke – would we really use text messaging type English for a domain name of votenz4hrc.org. But alas it is a real genuine site.

The only way to reform the Human Rights Council is to deny it legitimacy by refusing to participate until it does genuine reform. Changing from within totally failed with its predecessor.

I’m tempted to start a “Do Note Vote for NZ” campaign. Not because NZ doesn’t have an excellent record on human rights, but because I don’t want that excellent record to lend legitimacy to a Council which is home to some of the worse abusers, and fails consistently to confront countries like Zimbabwe as the Government there is literally murdering its opponents.

How much money is being spent by MFAT on the campaign to win a seat? I can think of much better uses for it!

UN tells off UK

June 14th, 2008 at 8:38 am by David Farrar

Norfolk Blogger (a Lib Dem) reacts with understandable anger to the UN Human Rights Council chiding the UK for its failings.

Sir Lanka, a country slammed by Human Rights Groups for its extrajudicial executions thinks the UK should ditch the monarchy as it is anti human rights. Now I am a republican but I don’t think the UK needs to be told buy the UN what form of Government to have.

Syria, a country with one party rule, complains about discrimination against Muslims. Syria only restricts freedom of speech, press, assembly, movement, association and oh yeah religion.

But the highlight must be Iran complaining about the UK’s record on sexual discrimination. Here is how Iran treats women:

  • If a woman is killed (say in a car accident) her family is paid only half of what they would get if a male is killed
  • The testimony of a male witness is worth twice that of a female witness
  • Women can not travel by themselves without written permission of her father or husband
  • Women get only half the inheritance amounts men get
  • Women who are raped are deemed guilty of extra-marital sex unless there are four Muslim male witnesses to the rape

And Iran sits on the UN Human Rights Council lecturing the UK on its sex discrimination record. It would be funny if it wasn’t so very very sad.

There is a rumour NZ is going to seek a place on the Human Rights Council. I sincerely hope we do not. We should not add legitimacy to this farce.

US disengages from UN Human Rights Council

June 9th, 2008 at 6:29 pm by David Farrar

The former UN Commission on Human Rights was a sick joke which comprised some of the worst human rights offenders in the world. Hence the UN Secretary-General proposed it be replaced by a smaller Human Rights Council with not just fewer members, but an election method which would keep out the worst states.

Sadly the reforms got watered down, so that almost the only thing which changed was the title. The new Human Rights Council has been hiring defenders of dictators for its work, and instead of trying to promote free speech, is trying to close it down by pushing for religious criticism defamation to be banned.

They have terminated scrutiny of Cuba and Belarus and basically do nothing at all except spend all their time condemning Israel. Not even the genocide in Darfur gets criticism to the same degree as Israel. And these criticisms of the Council come from Kofi Annan, not the US or Israel.

The US has announced it is minimising its participation, due to the above concerns. NZ should be doing the same. The UN does good in several areas, but its Human Rights Council is a sick joke.

UN Human Rights Council

April 6th, 2008 at 9:42 am by David Farrar

The structural deficiencies of the UN are once again on display, with the recent activities of the UN Human Rights Council.

First of all they elected Jean Ziegler to the council’s advisory committee. Ziegler has compared Israeli soldiers to concentration camp guards and lauding a professed Holocaust denier. Even better he, get this, co-founded in 1989 the Moammar Khaddafi Human Rights Prize. He founded this four months after Libya bombed Pam Am Flight 103 killing 270 people.

Winners of his Prize has been Fidel Castro, Louis Farrakhan, and a leader of a Ba’ath party women’s organisation in Saddam’s Iraq. plus oh yeah Ziegler himself.

He also nicely helped the Ethiopian dictator Mengistu draft his one-party constitution and in 2002, he praised the Zimbabwean dictator, saying, “Mugabe has history and morality with him.”

But he is not against human rights.  He has proclaimed the US a dictatorship guility of genocide, and oh yes western capitalism leaders deliberately organising starvation as a “weapon of mass destruction”.

So what else is the UN Human Rights Council doing. It has voted to urge nation states to ban defamation of religion. God forbid, religions are criticised.

But there may be some good news. They have directed a special investigator to concentrate on free speech and expression. Oh, but not to defend it. No, no. Their job is now to report on people who “abuse” free speech. They explain they are not against all free speech, just that free speech must be exercised responsibly.

Reporters Without Borders have said, the U.N. body was focusing on limiting criticism of state and religious interests. Amnesty International said the resolution showed “troubling signs that the Council is moving away from its mandate to promote human rights in the direction of policing the exercise of human rights.”

Oh while busy worried about the scourge of free speech, they were unable to find time to address human rights violations in Tibet.  But they did have time to declare climate change a human rights issue.

It would be funny if it was not so dangerous. And it is no surprise. I blogged two years ago about how this new UN Human Rights Council was no different to its discredited predecessor. The ultimate irony is that this body is funded 95% by the countries with the best human rights records so those countries with the worst human rights records can pass resolutions which undermine human rights.

Hat Tip: The Hive