Contempt for the United Nations' professed values and institutions is no barrier to diplomatic grandeur at the organization's Turtle Bay headquarters. Quite the opposite, in fact. An increasing number of UN member states scorn its founding documents - the Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention. These states, dubbed the ‘The Abusers Club' by human rights activists, are drawn mainly from the developing, Arab, and Islamic worlds. They are co-ordinating their assault on human rights and political freedoms with increasing, and disturbing, success, say UN sources.
Certainly the Abusers Club has hijacked the new Geneva-based Human Rights Council. The Council was inaugurated in June 2006 to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission. Even by UN standards the Commission was an embarrassment. In 2003, for example, the Commission was chaired by Najat al-Hajjaji, the Libyan ambassador. Predictably, draft resolutions critical of Sudan and Zimbabwe were defeated; and a resolution was passed effectively approving armed struggle in Palestine. Zimbabwe remained a member of the Commission, even while in 2005 Mugabe's thugs launched Operation Murambatsvina, which made 700,000 people homeless.
Proponents of the new 47-member Human Rights Council claimed it would put an end to such grotesqueries. The General Assembly resolution establishing the new organisation pledged that members must uphold the "highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights" and would be subject to "periodic review". The Council was raised to the status of a subsidiary body of the General Assembly. Members are elected by a majority vote of the General Assembly, with the aim of "mainstreaming" human rights into the United Nations system. This is especially important as this December marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This new electoral system was supposed to provide a means of keeping the worst human rights abusers off the Council. In practice it failed to take into account the growing anti-western sentiment at the United Nations, which regards almost all talk of human rights and political freedoms as a new form of imperialism. The membership of the Council alone affords evidence that ‘The Abusers Club', is growing in power and influence.
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