True Trans-Tasman Mateship

September 24th, 2009 at 1:57 pm by David Farrar

AAP report:

Mr Rudd joked that as the US is absorbed with its own policy debate on health reform he had had his own experience of “socialised hygiene”.

“I woke up this morning at the appropriate hour before some further breakfast organised for me by staff and then, only to encounter a queue, a line of people outside my bathroom, led by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Foreign Minister of NZ and most of our diplomatic staff,” Mr Rudd told a lunch in New York on Wednesday (NY time).

“So, if Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg is here, I would say this is an extreme way to treat our Kiwi cousins,” Mr Rudd said.

The story explained:

Prime Minister John Key was forced to go cap in hand to the residence of the Australian Ambassador to the UN for a wash this morning (Wednesday NY time) after water to his hotel was cut off.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd got more than he bargained for when he woke to find a queue of unwashed Kiwis waiting to use his bathroom.

In the true spirit of trans-Tasman cooperation Mr Rudd extended a cousinly hand to Mr Key in his hour of need.

Mr Rudd and his wife Therese Rein are staying at the residence of the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations near the UN building on the east side of Manhattan and were close at hand when the water was cut off at the hotel next door.

Dozens of people, including the New Zealand and other foreign delegations, along with members of the Australian diplomatic party and Mr Rudd’s staff were left without any water for several hours, as they woke up to get ready for another day at the UN.

I can see Rudd dining out on this for for quite a while!

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Dim-Post Advice for Key

September 22nd, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dim-Post has a list of things John Key should not say to the UN General Assembly. My favourites:

  • Okey-dokey.
  • It is vital that we all work together to combat the terrible threat to our global climax.
  • Allah Akbar!
  • We open with Lot #1 – Fiordland! What am I bid for this lush temperate rainforest?
  • Ban Ki, Imma let you finish but I just want to say that Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the best Secretary General of ALL TIME!.

Heh.

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UN says no tasers

May 21st, 2009 at 11:05 am by David Farrar

The UN has said it is deeply concerned over the introduction of tazers into New Zealand.

This almost certainly means it is a sensible thing to do.

Using the same logic I note that the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists has criticised the Christine Rankin appointment. This almost certainly means it was in fact a good thing, if the psychotherapists are against it.

Going back to tasers, I wonder why the UN thinks it is better for Police to shoot criminals dead, rather than tazer them?

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Poor Allan Dean

May 9th, 2009 at 4:22 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports that A UN Human Rights Committee has ruled that nasty old New Zealand has breached the rights of Allan Dean, by not giving Dean a parole hearing three years earlier than it did. New Zealand has been instructed to offer a remedy for this breach and report back to the UN within 180 days on what it has done – persumably how much money Dean has been given.

So the UN has agreed with Tony Ellis that Allan Dean’s rights have been infringed by giving him preventative detention with a ten year non parole period. So what is Allan Dean’s record:

  1. In 1959 indecently assaulted a youth in the dark
  2. In 1960 indecently assaulted a solider
  3. In 1964 indecently assaulted a 15 year old boy in a cinema
  4. In 1966 sentenced to jail and warned of preventative detention if he reoffended
  5. he then reoffended six months after being released
  6. In 1970 sentenced to eight year’s jail for three indecent assaults on boys aged under 16, and warned of preventative detention if he reoffended
  7. He then reoffended seven months after being released
  8. In 1993 sentenced to jail and warned of preventative detention if he reoffended.
  9. He reoffended three months later after being released
  10. In 1995 indecently assaulted a 13 year old boy in a cinema by fondling his crotch
  11. Admitted in 1995 that his offending was much more regular than his convictions indicated
  12. Finally given preventative detention in 1995

The ODT continues:

Mr Ellis said in a statement that the only effective remedy was compensation.

A spokesman for Justice Minister Simon Power said the committee’s report was being considered.

Yes let us give money to the paedophile, as the nice UN wants us to. And also let him out of jail to molest more children. I mean he only got three explicit warnings about preventative detention, before it was imposed. And hell the Courts rushed to judgement – they rushed to preventative detention after only 36 years of offending.

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The Press on UN Racism Conference

April 23rd, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

The hijacking by the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of a United Nations conference supposedly assembled to discuss racism should surprise no-one.

That something of the kind would occur was perfectly predictable beforehand. The last UN-sponsored conference on this subject was a fiasco, being used primarily as a platform for grandstanders to rant against the West in general and Israel in particular. All the preliminary talk that had gone on before the present one was fair warning that it would be a similar kind of occasion. As events have shown, New Zealand was wise to stay away from it. If it had not, it would certainly have had to join the more than 30 other nations attending that walked out when Ahmadinejad uttered his inflammatory remarks.

Indeed. But Labour continues to demand that we should have attended. Grant Robertson has done a third release complaining NZ did not attend.

Labour and the Greens have accused the Government of pulling out of the conference in order to appease its allies. This is stale and feeble nonsense.

Yep.

The fact is that, like the other governments that chose not to attend, New Zealand made its own judgment, accurate as it turned out, that no good would come of the event. The New Zealand chief human rights commissioner, Ros Noonan, claims not to be able to find anything anti-semitic in the conference. If that is the case, she must have a severely blinkered view of the matter. Intense negotiations by the US, for instance, before the conference started, focused heavily on concerns about anti-semitism.

I just don’t understand why Labour are so keen for NZ to be forced to attend a conference where you have the Chief Holocaust Denier promate hatred and racism.

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Labour supports so called UN Conference on Racism

April 21st, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday on the welcome news that New Zealand would not be attending the so called UN Conference on Racism. The last conference was an appalling show of hatred with really two aims – to demonise Israel and make it illegal to criticise religions such as Islam.

Now I expcted the Greens to get upset about this, but surprised that Labour’s Grant Robertson also condemned the decision.

Now let us look at who else has decided to not attend this vile little conference. We have:

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. Germany
  4. Israel
  5. Italy
  6. Netherlands
  7. Poland
  8. Sweden
  9. United States

There may be more. But note that Obama and Kevin Rudd have both decided to stay away, and they are from sister parties to NZ Labour. Grant presumably thinks they are doing the wrong thing also.

So who will be attending? We know the Iranian President is attending. Denying the Holocaust is not racist it seems. But Libya will also be attending – in fact they are chairing the preparatory committee.

Now you would think the Chair of the preparatory committee would come from a country that excels in human rights and treatment of all citizens regardless of race, tribe or ethnicity.

But we know this about Libya:

Within Libya there is open racism and violence towards black Africans such as migrant workers. Physical attacks against them are commonplace and unpunished. Nigerians tell of Libyan parents encouraging their children to throw stones at them.

And worse:

The United Nations, the American Anti-Slavery Group, and the US State Department all agree that Libya is actively involved in trafficking black Africans in a slave trade that still prospers in Libya., Mali, Mauritania and Sudan.

But will there be one word of criticism of Libya at this conference they chair? Of course not.

Robertson claims that it is vital NZ has a voice at the table. No, not when the outcome is pre-determined (they have been negotiated texts for months) and it will bring shame to be associated with it.  By disassociating ourselves from the conference, we send out a far stronger message that we will not be associated with attempts to make it illegal to criticise certain religions.

UPDATE: It is off to a good start:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the West of using the Holocaust as a “pretext” for aggression against Palestinians, prompting walkouts by every European Union country at a UN conference on racism.

Oh yes, we definitely should be there to hear from the Holocaust Denier in Chief – on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day no less.

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Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction conference

April 19th, 2009 at 8:33 am by David Farrar

No I have not made this up.

Steve Chadwick has put out a PR:

Steve Chadwick leaves this weekend for a Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction conference in Beijing, China. Ms Chadwick had been invited for her former roles as both Minister of Women’s Affairs and Chair of NZPPD. …

“The purpose of this conference will be to address and review progress and existing challenges in mainstreaming gender issues in disaster risk reduction. At present there is an unequal balance in how disasters affect men and women” said Ms Chadwick.

Hell I never realised earthquakes were sexist and discriminated. Mind you those bushfires have always been a bit old fashioned so I’m not surprised they are imbalanced as to how they affect women.

Here’s some decisions from their last conference:

Refrain from funding of extractive industries, such as mining, logging and oil and natural gas extractions that exacerbate climate change, poverty and gender inequality.

We should stop logging because it causes gender inequality.

Anyway I’m not complaining about Steve attending the conference. Like Alf Grumble, I’m wondering who she pissed off to be forced to attend as punishment. Alf says:

Good grief. If two days exposure to thoughts on gender issues in disaster risk reduction is the price to be paid, you can not regard this as a junket. It’s obviously a stiff punishment, but for what?

Probably for using the word “wellness”.

Actually, talking about “wellness” should be a capital offence, but two days in Beijing banging on about genders and disasters with like-minded drones comes close to next best (or worst) on the severity scale.

I would have thought it constitutes inhumane punishment!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Clark gets UNDP Administrator job

March 25th, 2009 at 10:24 am by David Farrar

The well informed Trans-Tasman has just told subscribers that Helen Clark has been appointed Administrator of the United Nationals Development Programme. The role, is the third most senior at the UN, and needs to be confirmed by the UN General Assembly.

Kiwiblog broke the news on 7 February that Clark was seeking the job, and that the NZ Government was backing her for it.

Congratulations go to Helen Clark for gaining the job. As I blogged back on 7 February I do think she will do a good job, and on balance supported her candidacy – not without reservations of course. And the fact she was successful does show she is highly respected for the contribution she can make to development issues.

Kudos should go to John Key and Murray McCully for their strong backing of Clark, and putting the NZ Government in full support of her bid. It is in New Zealand’s interest to have a NZer in the third most important role there and they look good for putting party politics to one side. Despite the many imperfections of the UN, we are better for its existence (parts of it could go though).

Incidentally I ran into Clark last night in the basement of the Beehive and noted to a Nat MP afterwards that she was looking pretty happy. I had heard a few days that she was the likely successful candidate, but not that she ws home and hosed.

Phil Goff should also be pleased. Once Helen leaves the country he may manage to make second place in the Preferred PM polls :-)

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Clark shortlisted for UNDP job

February 24th, 2009 at 11:37 am by David Farrar

As expected, Helen Clark has made the shortlist for the UNDP Adminstrator job. NZPA reports she is now in New York for an interview with the UN Secretary-General.

Hard to know her chances, as it depends of course on who ther other candidates are. Also whom influential countries like the US support.

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Moore backs Clark for UN post

February 9th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Mike Moore has said he thinks Helen Clark is the best candidate for the UNDP Administrator job, and has been lobbying on her behalf. He thinks she has a strong chance to win, rating her ahead of the unanmed other candidates.

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Helen’s new job?

February 7th, 2009 at 2:25 pm by David Farrar

I have heard from a highly reliable source that at the recent Pacific Islands Forum, support was canvassed by the NZ Government for a candidacy by Helen Clark to take up the post of Administrator of the UN Development Programme.

A few weeks ago on 12 January 2009, the UN Secretary-General announced that the current Administrator, Kemal Dervis, was retiring. His four year term ends on 15 August 2009.

The role is a very very senior one at the United Nations. It is basically third only to the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General. They chair the UN Development Group, which is a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programmes and departments dealing with development issues. This is as big as it gets basically.

My initial source is not anyone within Government or Parliament, or anyone associated with them – I am happy to sign an affidavit to that. I have spies everywhere :-) As the story is potentially quite significant I e-mailed the PM’s Chief Press Secretary with the guts of what I had learnt, and asked if they could comment on its accuracy. They have declined to comment which suggests to me it is not without substance.

The role is not elected at large, but appointed by the Secretary-General, and confirmed by the General Assembly. So one does need to have good consensus behind the appointment – however it is not a lobbying game to the same extent say the WTO Director-General was.

Helen will not be the only candidate. It is likely there will be a couple of candidates from within the UN bureaucracy – development and aid specialists. So it will be a choice between a candidate with political leadership experience vs candidates with fulltime development backgrounds. While the decision is the Secretary-General’s, Barack Obama’s support will be influential as the UN wants to build ties with the new administration. All bar the last two UNDP Administrators have been Americans.

The annual budget of the UNDP is close to US$5 billion and they work in 166 countries. This is arguably the most senior job one could expect Helen to obtain as the UN Secretary-General job is done by rotation amongst the regions.

So what’s my reaction to the candidacy, if it is in play? I think it goes without saying that I have not been Helen’s biggest fan. It doesn’t concern me that she led a Government whose policies I disagreed with. Talent doesn’t come from just one side of the political spectrum. And I have generally regarded Clark as an able political administrator – as have most of the public.

But I do have some concerns. To me the pre 2005 Helen Clark is different to the post 2005 Clark. I’m not sure what happened, but somewhere along the way Helen seemed to lose her previously reliable judgement. From 2005 to 2008 she made the wrong call on almost every big issue such as the deliberate over-spending, the initial refusal to pay back the pledge card costs, the inquiry into Taito Philip Field, the Benson-Pope sagas, the Electoral Finance Act, the “trust” campaign against John Key and most of all her continual defence of Winston that defied comprehension. I saw a disturbing commitment to the ends justify the means, which is a slippery slope.

So if the last three years had never happened, I would say supporting the candidacy would be a no brainer.  I feel much more conflicted after the last three years, but then I look at the particulars of the position:

  • Helen has a lifetime of experience and passion on “development” issues and would bring that to the job. If it was IMF Managing Director I’d be worried :-)
  • She has a formidable international network that would be of great benefit in the job
  • As a former Prime Minister she would bring considerable status to the role, making it easier to get in the door with donor nations
  • New Zealand has a very proud history of doing our part, despite our small economy, with development issues and the opportunity to have a New Zealander heading up the UNDP is a once in a lifetime chance.

So I conclude that just as we supported Mike Moore, Denis Marshall, SImon Upton and Don McKinnon to international jobs, we should also support the candidacy of Helen Elizabeth Clark to the position of Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. There is a time to put partisan politics behind us.

I am sure there will be plenty of people agreeing and disagreeing in the comments! For those who think I have lost my marbles, well then consider that Angelina Jolie is is a UNDP Global Ambassador, so if Helen gets the top job that increases the chances Angelina may visit New Zealand :-)

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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.

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Let’s have the UN decide

December 15th, 2008 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn wants the UN to decide if NZ is meeting its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

He explains:

It will allow individuals to bring complaints directly to an international body. So for example, if the government hadn’t decided to change its mind, the “Herception heroes” could have argued that PHARMAC’s refusal to fund their preferred drug violated their right to health, and complained to the UN about it.

I can think of nothing more ridicolous than having a UN panel, probably made up of representatives from Zimbabwe, Iran and Russia deciding whether or not the NZ Government should fund Herceptin.

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More irony from the United Nations

November 17th, 2008 at 11:50 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports on how the United Nations is having a two day conference on religious tolerance. It has chosen Saudia Arabia to chair the conference.

Saudi Arabia:

  • bans the public practice of non-Islamic religions
  • views its interpretation of Islamic law as its sole source of guidance on human rights
  • Muslims who do not follow the official strict and conservative version of Sunni Islamcan face severe repercussions at the hands of Mutawwa’in (religious police)
  • forbids missionary work by any religion other than Wahabi/Salafi Islam
  • Jewish, Christian or Hindu houses of prayer are not allowed
  • the government can search the home of anyone and arrest or deport foreign workers for owning religious icons and symbols
  • Under Saudi law conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy, a crime punishable by death if the accused does not recant.

Yes the perfect country to chair a UN conference on religious tolerance – one that executes you if you swap to a non tolerated religion

Hat Tip: Micky’s Muses

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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UN Sec Gen calls for end to food tariffs and biofuel subsidies

June 4th, 2008 at 6:54 am by David Farrar

Some common sense and plain speaking from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who has called for an end to food tariffs and to subsidies for biofuels as the key way to bring down the price of food and stop millions from starvation.

Sadly this advice will be ignored by the Greens and NZ First who both support protectionist policies such as tariffs.

Also interesting debate on how much biofuels are to blame:

Hunger campaigners single out biofuels – often made by converting food crops into fuel – as a prime culprit for the crisis.

Biofuel supporters say the effect on food prices of diverting crops into ethanol production is small.

US Agriculture Secretary Ed Shafer said before the summit began that biofuels accounted for about 3 per cent of the total food price rise.

But the Oxfam aid organisation says the real effect is about 30 per cent.

It is sort of ironic that us free traders are on the side of the UN and Oxfam while the Greens seem to be in the same camp as the US – supporting tariffs and biofuels.

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NBR on Govt grants to UN black listed company

May 2nd, 2008 at 3:52 pm by David Farrar

NBR had a great cover story this morning by Amy Williams on how the Government has been dishing out money to a NZ company, even *after* it was told it had been blacklisted by the UN for corruption (one wonders how corrupt one has to be, to have the UN stop using you!!). The UN can not prosecute, but asked NZ authorities to prosecute the company – Radiola Aerospace, and it was referred to the Police in May 2007 by MFAT.

Despite this NZTE has continuted to grant Radiola money from its market development fund. Trevor Mallard has visited Radiola, and praised them a number of times – before this revelation which he says he was never brifed on by officials.

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Well done Helen

April 23rd, 2008 at 5:00 pm by David Farrar

Helen had to miss out on the gala dinner in Singapore where she received a trophy made of recycled metal from the UN for being one of seven winners in the annual UN Champions of the Earth awards.Now Helen’s record on carbon emissions is worse than George W Bush and John Howard. Kyoto is all about what percentage increase or decrease one should have over 1990 levels and George and John did better than Helen in being closer to their target.

NZ has the fourth worst actual record of annex 1 countries in terms of meeting our Kyoto obligations (we are 29% over target) so one can only conclude, the award is yet another indication of the UN’s long demonstrated preference for rhetoric over substance. Typical UN – does not matter what you do in practice, as long as you churn out the right rhetoric!

No Right Turn also notes:

But while its great policy, none of this stuff has actually been implemented yet, so Clark has essentially been given this award on the basis of hot air.

I am not sure the policy is that great. They have yet to pass a single policy through Parliament. Their biofuels legislation has been rubbished by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and their Emission scheme by Greenpeace. Their Fart Tax failed due to the hypocrisy of treatment of debits and credits.

The future price of carbon is so uncertain, that I more and more think a carbon tax in the short term would be better than the tradeable emissions scheme. Under some dire scenarios the scheme could wipe out out food export sector. from Radio NZ yesterday:

Federated Farmers says the Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme has the potential to extingish [sic] extinguish food exports from New Zealand. The comments are based on a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry report which shows the projected impacts of the trading scheme on farmers’ profitsm a range of different carbon prices and the corresponding financial impact the scheme would have on different sectors such as sheep, beef, dairy, horticulture and deer. The figures analyse the impact the Emissions Trading Scheme would have had on the sectors if it had been introduced without warning in mid-2006. Among the worst affected sectors are deer, sheep and beef, greenhouse tomatoes and dairy. Federated Farmers’ Dairy Section Chairman Frank Brenmuhl says based on the projections for a payout of $4.14 per kilo of milk solids and a full carbon price of $50 per tonne the average drop in farmers’ profits would be 123%.

Now for those who only have a degree in economic history, a 123% drop in profits means you will be losing money. In other words no food production at all. So we will meet out Kyoto target by importing all our food from overseas. Hmmn that will be great eh.

UPDATE: The Greens’ Frog Blog is also weighing in, comparing Helen Clark getting an award for being a Champion of the Earth to Brian Waddle being named Black Cap of the Year for his cricket commentary. Shit that is funny – Frog is being more sarcastic than me!

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