A palaver about human rights

The current fuss about restructuring the UN Human Rights Commission goes to the very heart of what is wrong with the UN. The one proposal that does not seem to have been given any serious consideration is that only countries with a tolerably decent record of implementing human rights should be eligible to serve on the Commission. Quite the reverse. In 2001 the United States was voted off the Human Rights Commission for the first time ever.

(In passing, there is a bizarre left-wing e-mail doing the rounds purporting to be George W Bush's résumé which lists this as one of his achievements. Either the author did not notice that this occurred at the immediate end of the Clinton presidency, or like much else in the e-mail, it is deliberately deceitful.)

Like much else in the UN, the Human Rights Commission is based on regions. On the old Commission Africa was guaranteed the largest representation. There seems to be no basis for this at all, as Africa is far from being the most populous continent. The new makeup of the Commission puts Africa on the same level as Asia, which has far more people and a much better record on human rights.

This is the problem with the UN. It lets anyone in. It has no entry standards whatsoever. Even Sudan, which allows slavery, is a UN member. Until recently, Libya chaired the human rights Commission. Such an organisation has no role promoting human rights. By its nature, it never will.

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