the united nations human rights council has some new members including the united states, china, and saudi arabia. my first thoughts upon reading this report below was horror that these countries, which consistently violate human rights around the world and within their own borders, would be on such a council. but then again what countries do not? here is the story from al jazeera:
China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Russia, who have all been accused of serious rights violations, were also among the nations elected on Tuesday following a secret ballot.
Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, said that Washington still believed the body to be flawed.
“We are looking forward to working from within with a broad cross-section of member states to strengthen and reform the Human Rights Council.”
The administration of George Bush, the previous US president, had boycotted the council over its criticism of Israel and its failure to cite rights abuses in Sudan and elsewhere.
In March, the Obama administration said it would seek to join the council as part of a “new era of engagement” with the body.
The US was elected alongside Belgium and Norway to join the Western States bloc of nations sitting on the council.
Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Hungary, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uruguay will also join the 47-nation council for a three-year period.
The council was set up three years ago to replace the UN Human Rights Commission, which was widely criticised for failing to overcome political alliances and take a strong stand on issues including China’s rights record.
But the new council has also been criticised by the US for focusing on Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians and not taking a strong enough stand against violence in Tibet and Darfur.
Human Rights Watch has condemned the trading of votes for seats on the Human Rights Council as unacceptable.
last night on al jazeera’s “inside story” with lauren taylor there was a discussion about the council, but it is unfortunate that the entire panel was american because it seriously limited the perspective, especially with regard to american human rights violations around the world. they had steve crawsahw of human rights watch (which has its own biases that limit its work to actually fight for human rights), brett schaefer of the heritage foundation, and phyllis bennis of the institute for policy studies. here is the episode:
the premise of their discussion is flawed, for the most part, because they seem to think that there is potential in obama’s administration in being on board. but i would beg to differ. a reminder: the united states boycotted the recent durban 2 world conference against racism. to me this is one clear sign of american behavior on the world stage with respect to human rights. here is haidar eid’s assessment of the americans and others who boycotted and walked out of the durban 2 conference because they are unable to deal with the fact that zionism = racism:
We, Palestinians, are absolutely fed up with the so-called ‘International Community’. Has Durban II been a failure? Well, if we still believe in the role of western governments, especially those with a long colonial legacy, in playing a positive role vis-a-vis the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, we are, then, fooling ourselves. It is the power of people that we must bank on, just as it was in the case of apartheid South Africa, where a sustained global ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign forced the same governments to boycott the Pretoria racist regime. Durban II was a reminder that whether it is Bush, or Obama, the Empire is the same. Patrice Lumumba once said: “I know that history will have its say some day, but it will not be history as written in Brussels, Paris or Washington, it will be our own.”
exactly. bush or obama it is the same. especially for foreign policy issues. another article by haidar from the socialist worker, which examines obama’s complicity with zionist terrorist war crimes in palestine, and obama’s silence over those war crimes gives yet another reason why the united states cannot be a credible member of a human rights council:
On April 17, there was an incident in Bil’in, in which a Palestinian youngster was shot dead. On the same day, another Palestinian was shot dead in Hebron. That was at the same time Mitchell was visiting Tel Aviv.
But unfortunately, the complicit silence from Obama’s White House continues. This has accompanied the cutoff of medicine, food and fuel to a starving Gaza. Patients in need of dialysis and other urgent medical treatment are dying every single day. A majority of us here in Gaza are badly undernourished. But not a single word of condemnation from the Obama administration.
on the home front–in the land of american settler colonialism–obama still has refused to come out in favor of a united nations resolution that would recognize the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. haidar rizvi reported on this for common dreams a couple of weeks ago:
The United States is considering whether to endorse a major U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for the recognition of the rights of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples over their lands and resources.
“The position on [this issue] is under review,” Patrick Ventrell, spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the U.N., told IPS about the Barack Obama administration’s stance on the non-binding U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Approved by a vast majority of the U.N. member states in September 2007, the General Assembly resolution on the declaration was rejected by the George W. Bush administration over indigenous leaders’ argument that no economic or political power has the right to exploit their resources without seeking their “informed consent.”
Three other “settler nations” of European descent, namely Canada, New Zealand and Australia, also voted against the declaration, which states that indigenous peoples have the right to maintain their cultures and remain on their land.
However, last month, the new left-leaning government in Canberra reversed its position, announcing support for the declaration.
“We show our respect for indigenous peoples,” said Jenny Macklin, a member of the Australian parliament. “We show our faith in a new era of relations between states and indigenous peoples in good faith.”
The new government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has also offered an apology to the indigenous communities who suffered at the hands of European settlers for decades.
Indigenous rights activists in the United States say they want the new liberal democratic government in Washington to make a similar move to address the grievances of native communities who have long been subjected to abuse and discrimination.
“The U.S. [should] become a resolute supporter of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” argued James Polk, who writes for Foreign Policy in Focus, a progressive periodical published by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.
“It’s a comprehensive document that affirms that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, and that, in the exercise of their rights, they should be free from their discrimination,” he added.
The declaration reflects growing concerns of aboriginal communities about the continued exploitation of their resources and suppression of their cultural vales and practices by commercial concerns and governments that are alien to their cultures.
in new orelans, obama is also continuing the bush-era policy of denying rights of residents who are victims of the manmade disaster otherwise known as hurricane katrina as glen ford points out in the black agenda report this week:
The line between Bush and Obama has not simply blurred in New Orleans: it has disappeared.” President Obama has adopted, in whole, the Bush approach to rebuilding the city – minus the Black Diaspora that was scattered to the winds in 2005. Notices of eviction have been served on the mostly elderly and Black inhabitants of 3,000 FEMA trailers. The Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development is putting the finishing touches on public housing demolition in the city. Not a single “Katrina Cottage” has been made ready for occupancy. Obama no more favors the “right to return” to – or remain in – New Orleans, than Bush did.
and in america’s client regimes in its imperial role is another reason why the united states does not deserve a seat on a council for human rights. margaret kimberley’s article in today’s black agenda report addresses the violations of afghanistan and pakistan on obama’s watch:
Obama always knows how to make the terrible sound benevolent. In this case he says that we “must defeat al-Qaeda.” Most Americans had never heard of the word al-Qaeda until September 11, 2001 and will forever connect it with the death of 3,000 people. It is useful for Obama to phrase his assault in terms that will win him popular approval.
The Obama administration has openly undermined Ali Asif Zardari, the elected Pakistani president. Zardari’s main claim to legitimacy comes via his in-laws, the Bhutto family. If he were not Benazir Bhutto’s widower, this convicted embezzler, known as Mr. 10%, would not be president. Nevertheless, he is the president of a country that is allegedly an ally, and he should be treated with the respect he is due.
Yet the New York Times reports that Zardari has been told that his opposition will be courted and if necessary put into power with him if he balks at slaughtering his people on Washington’s command. In his 100 days press conference, Obama made himself crystal clear. “We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.”
Not only are we supposed to be whipped into a frenzy at the very mention of words like al-Qaeda and Taliban, but we are now supposed to believe that Pakistan is on the verge of a mysterious “collapse” and that its nuclear weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists who will carry them around in briefcases, as in the plots of Hollywood thrillers. Zardari gets the thumb screw treatment, and we get outright lies.
“Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, is equally hapless and helpless in keeping his people safe from the demands of the United States. He has long complained about civilian deaths caused by attacks on the Taliban and he repeated himself in vain on Meet the Press. “Our villages are not where the terrorists are. And that’s what we kept telling the U.S. administration, that the war on terrorism is not in the Afghan villages, not in the Afghan homes. Respect that. Civilian casualties are undermining support in the Afghan people for the war on terrorism and for the, the, the relations with America. How can you expect a people who keep losing their children to remain friendly?” Obviously, such a people will not remain friendly but that has never been America’s concern. National Security Adviser James Jones said as much. “We can’t fight with one hand tied behind our back.”
Once again the United States repeats its long history of killing people and claiming it is for their own good. Afghanistan and Pakistan are just the latest on that awful list. While that dynamic doesn’t change, neither will the reaction of people around the world. They do hate us, and they have good reason to do so.
and under obama it seems the united states is continuing its policy of deporting haitians, including those seeking refuge from the recent devastating hurricanes as maria sacchetti reports in common dreams:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Representatives Barney Frank and Stephen Lynch are urging the Department of Homeland Security to grant Haitians temporary protected status, and Lynch cosponsored a bill that would force Secretary Janet Napolitano to take the step if she does not act on her own. The status would allow Haitian immigrants, legal and illegal, to remain here and work for a fixed amount of time.
State Representative Marie St. Fleur, who was born in Haiti, visited that country this spring and then met with White House aides on the issue last month. In January, Haitian Ambassador Raymond Joseph took it even further, by stalling deportations to Haiti. He refused to provide deportees’ travel documents until the Obama administration reviews its policy on Haiti.
“Anyone who requests a paper from us is not getting it,” he said Friday.
Last month Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Haiti and said the US government was reviewing its policy on granting Haitian immigrants temporary protected status.
But Napolitano, who has the granting authority, has stayed silent. Deportations halted last year after the hurricanes, but have resumed, including a plane filled with 48 convicted criminals who were deported to Haiti last month, said her spokesman Sean Smith.
Frank said Friday that the US policy is discriminatory. The government now provides temporary protection to five countries – El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan – but it has never offered it to Haiti.
and most recent, though by no means final, reason for the united states to be banned from any human rights council check out this latest news about obama blocking the publication of photographs of american torture as the bbc reports:
The US government had previously said it would not fight a court ruling ordering the release of the pictures.
Mr Obama now believes the release of the photos would make the job of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan more difficult, White House officials said.
The pictures were due to be released by 28 May, according to the court ruling.
The court order was issued by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in September 2008, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
i could go on and on, but this entire blog is documentation for american human rights violations at home and abroad. enough said.