IN OTHER WORDS: Be tough
Last spring, the old, ineffectual UN Commission on Human Rights was abolished and replaced by a new Human Rights Council. This reformed body was designed to make it harder for notorious abusers of human rights to become members.
In this regard, the new council does represent an advance; three-quarters of its members belong to what is called the Community of Democracies. Still, in a report card on the council’s first six months, the independent monitoring group Freedom House decries the council’s “inability to address the world’s most egregious human rights abuses.”
The new council will become as much a travesty as its predecessor if it fails to pass strong resolutions on the horrific human rights abuses in Darfur, Burma, and North Korea. Instead, the council mimicked the old commission on Monday when it passed two resolutions condemning Israel and one that calls for a restricting code of conduct to be imposed on the independent special rapporteurs reporting about abuses to the council.
If there is a blind spot in the report, it is in the recommendation that the US play a more active role and run for a seat on the council. The Bush administration’s record of indulging in torture, kidnapping, and defiance of the Geneva Conventions has left it unfit to act as a credible defender of human rights.