Making a mockery of human rights

There is a straight line from the UN’s obsessive focus on condemning Israel to the cynical decision of the Arab League to appoint “the world’s worst human rights observer” as the head of its mission to monitor violence in Syria.

As UN Watch noted in a report on the first few years of UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) operation:

The 47-nation body has condemned Israel in 80% of its country censures, in 20 of 25 resolutions. The other 5 texts criticized North Korea once, and Myanmar four times.  The Council has ignored the UN’s other 189 countries, including the world’s worst abusers. While Darfur was addressed several times, these resolutions were non-condemnatory, often praising Sudan for “cooperation.”

This dismal record is hardly surprising in view of the fact that even the worst human rights violators are eligible to serve on the UNHRC – while the world’s only Jewish state is excluded, since the Arab and Muslim states will not admit Israel as member of the Asian regional group: I’ve called it Apartheid, UN-style.

Yet another illustration of the limitless hypocrisy that is so commonplace at the UN was the recent nomination of Syria to two committees dealing with human rights, and the approval of this nomination by the UNESCO Executive Board.

After making a mockery of human rights for so long, the Arab League probably couldn’t imagine that anyone would notice how cynical it is that its mission to Syria is headed by the Sudanese General Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi:

Dabi may be the unlikeliest leader of a humanitarian mission the world has ever seen. He is a staunch loyalist of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity for his government’s policies in Darfur. And Dabi’s own record in the restive Sudanese region, where he stands accused of presiding over the creation of the feared Arab militias known as the “janjaweed,” is enough to make any human rights activist blanch.

If past experience is any guide, it is unfortunately not really true that human rights activists always “blanch” (or blush) when human rights abusers play human rights defenders — and given the composition of the UNHRC and some other UN human rights groups, Dabi is actually not such an unlikely leader for a “humanitarian” mission.

Unsurprisingly, the Arab League’s intrepid human rights monitor from Sudan told reporters after his mission’s first day in Syria “that the observers had seen ‘nothing frightening’.”

There were always victims of human rights abuses who had to pay a painful price for the mockery that was made of human rights – this time, it may be the turn of the Syrians.


2 responses to “Making a mockery of human rights

  1. Interesting article, Petra.

    In a comment I made on Harry’s Place tonight I mentioned Robin Shepherd’s book in which he states that the I/P conflict is a test case for the West’s ability to stand up for the values it claims as its own. I was (am!) too weary to elaborate, but this article is a case in point.

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