| by Shenali Waduge
( February 27, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The UN Human Rights Council replaced the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2006 in a bid to strengthen human rights, move away from politicization & selectivity and instill professionalism & credibility. Six years since its inception – we simply ask what has the UNHRC actually achieved and on behalf of whom is the UNHRC really functioning and more importantly on what basis are the judgments arrived at.
From which angle the decisions of the UNHRC is taken is important for in including nations like Russia, China, Pakistan, Cuba & Libya into the UNHRC membership the UNHRC is projected as a body of members that have poor human rights standards. Who says so…the West. Thus, International media owned & operated by the West will highlight ONLY human rights abuses of these nations totally ignoring the human rights violations by countries projecting themselves as champions of human rights but who carry out sadistic covert operations that have created the mess that currently exists globally. Did the US not ask Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait & used that as reason to invade Iraq? Did the US not inform President Gaddafi that he was free to travel with a white flag but then captured & killed him in the most inhuman way one could imagine? Did US not coax Sri Lankan Government into inflating civilian numbers killed before the UNHRC sessions – we can only wait and wonder what is likely to happen as a result! Lesson 1 to 100 to remember at all times – Never trust a word the US or India says. Governments may have shortcomings and weaknesses but these should not be compromised for the sake of the country!
When the UNHRC passes resolutions against Israel the west criticizes its one-sided attitude. The example often used is the Goldstone Report that excoriated Israel & exonerated Hamas. The problem lies in the reality that there is no truth prevailing. Israel knows its shortcomings but refuses to admit because nothing is really black or white in global governance…sadly this is the state of affairs happening globally. So if members accuse Israel as guilty before the verdict isn’t it the same in the case of Sri Lanka? Much of the criticisms arises when decisions or resolutions proposed are against western dictates. However, when western biased resolutions are proposed it has to be implemented without even discussions! At the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, the US & Israel delegations walked out – could other smaller countries do the same?
Much of the language of human rights & the terminologies used are associated with western concepts & thinking which do not strike a compromise with the rest of the world especially the Asian & Middle Eastern nations where cultures, values & living styles are far different. This is why most of the programs do not reach significant levels of success.
Whether it happens in the East or West – we agree that around the world there is increase in torture, violence against women & children, crimes etc where millions of victims go ignored. Prominence is given to ousting a single man while the collateral damage to civilians & civilian infrastructure is ignored. Human rights of civilians gets clouded in a complicated harangue of discussions centering around how terrorism should be stopped when all it takes is a few decisive decisions to actually end terrorism altogether. These are the ground realities that exist but these are also the realities that are totally ignored drowned in incomprehensible clauses that ordinary people cannot understand or relate to. These are possibly set up to confuse matters more than provide solutions to them.
So while the West bemoans resolutions brought against Israel – do they stop to answer the fundamental question? Is Israel involved in forceful “colonialism”, is it brutally suppressing Palestinians? Or has it been advantageous to oppose the “demonization” of Israel & evade answering. This is how politics takes place all over the world. Yet when we know that the news we watch, the print we read, the commentaries we hear are manipulated where do we actually turn to for correct information? Is it not because of these “news” manipulations that conflicts have worsened? If Sri Lanka is being targeted using a dubious documentary called Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields despite its main victim proven to be a hardcore terrorist, the pictures of misery in Syria are said to be those used in a previous conflict…so much for journalistic ethics? We would be extremely happy to see Channel 4 winning the “coveted” Nobel Peace Prize in order to place the real truth about the authenticity of the documentary and it would give us the opportunity to further highlight the hypocrisies that prevail.
Violence & murder of civilians throughout the world should be the concern of the UN & the UNHRC – it is not set up to chide a few nations totally ignoring nations that artfully ignites the violence. UN is armed to discover the truth of these underhand operations through the appointment of unbiased Commissions of Inquiry. The findings of these reports suffices to categorically tell Governments and their intelligence outfits to stop such activity. If the UN body or the UNHRC cannot do this simple task and spends time formulating HR reviews, meeting at sessions, engaging in polite conversations followed by damning statements – these are all just a waste of everyone’s time because the violence, the terror and the heartache continues unabated for the world’s citizens. That is the simple truth. If anyone disagrees just see the amount of discussions that took place about Darfur, Rwanda & Bosnia while millions died, thousands were abducted & thousands were raped. If anyone should point fingers it should be at the UNHRC for doing NOTHING. If the UN or the UNHRC have done nothing or can do nothing to stop racist murders, rapes, terrorism, violence on women & children is there any need to function as a body just to produce annual reports and sing hosannas every year about how the UN or UNHRC has survived in a year of turmoil?
Moreover why should only the West decide who should be voted into UN bodies? China’s membership to the UNHRC was opposed by US whose human rights records is far from clean. Ironically the UNHRC praised Libya’s human rights record in 2011 just months before Libya was suspended to coincide with the West’s agenda to oust Libyan leader Gaddafi. So the UNHRC did a periodic review & praised Gaddafi for the promotion of human rights – Australia welcomed Libya’s willingness to facilitate visits by Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, Canada welcomed recent legislation allowing women married to foreigners the right to pass on their Libyan nationality to their children even the US supported Libya’s increased engagement with the international community but also highlighted concerns about freedom of express – similar to the statements issued on Sri Lanka! We all know what happened to Gaddafi just months later. We also know the future of Libya which is unlikely to be any different from Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo or Egypt.
What has the UNHRC done about the incidents that actually led to the collateral damage that took place and where has been the justice for the innocent lives lost, the civilian infrastructure destroyed and the historical significance of these places that were bombed. The countries that took part in these devastating attacks are where they are because they have fleeced the Third World and it is the continuance of these countries that they manipulate the world through international media & international monetary organizations.
The UN or the UNHRC is not a body meant to dabble in the ugly game of politics leave that to Governments. If the UN or the UNHRC is a body comprised of “qualified, efficient & people of integrity” then all they need to worry about is finding ways to ensure that at least ONE person does not die because of the decisions they take. The UN/UNHRC could have done far more than they have done to stop terrorism instead of wasting time over the years coming up with 2nd phase solutions without nipping terrorism in the bud. If anyone’s human rights are being denied it is the UN & UNHRC that must be first responsible.
Whether the cloak is changed is immaterial. If the body functions in the same manner UNCHR or UNHRC’s the output is the same.