Incredible. Why did the U.S. do nothing? Did men (and women) from Mars come down and carry off the entire American delegation to the United Nations in Geneva?
But I’m getting ahead of the story.
From UN Watch, the stalwart Geneva-based monitoring group that keeps a close eye on the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, comes news of the latest UN mockery of human rights. UN Watch reports that the Human Rights Council has just unanimously adopted a report praising the human rights record of none other than the late Libyan tyrant, Muammar Qaddafi.
This report was part of the Universal Periodic Review process with which the “reformed” Human Rights Council is supposed to assess, in rotation, the human rights records of all UN member states. This is, of course, the UN we’re talking about; so there is a working group, but ultimately everyone gets a chance to pile on, regardless of how many mass graves some have filled back home — dictatorships, satraps, totalitarians, terror-sponsors, monarchies, democrats and democratic republics (People’s and Otherwise). Out of this stew arises a report, which the Human Rights Council then decides whether to adopt, and once it is adopted, it is part of the UN official record.
In Libya’s case, the report just adopted — or effectively approved — was drafted in 2010, while Qaddafi was still alive. It is dated Jan. 4, 2011, just a few weeks before the start of the uprising in which Libyans ultimately overthrew Qaddafi and killed him. When that draft report first saw daylight, Qaddafi’s Libya was sitting on the Human Rights Council, and had just finished presiding over the UN’s 2009-2010 General Assembly. The report lavished praise on Qaddafi, with Iran noting “with appreciation” all he had done for human rights and NGOs, Qatar praising Libya’s legal framework, Syria commending Libya’s democratic regime, Bahrain praising Libya’s “free education system,” Saudi Arabia “commmending” this and that, North Korea impressed by Libya’s institutional framework, Pakistan praising Libya’s fortitude during earlier years under sanctions, and so on, and on. UN Watch has kindly assembled some of the quotes for us, here.
It was so outrageous that when it was first slated for adoption, in March, 2011, UN Watch protested. By then, with Qaddafi fighting a populace in open rebellion, the world’s spotlights had at long last swiveled in the direction of Qaddafi’s monstrous abuse of his own people. The UN postponed adoption of this fawning, twisted report.
Until today. When it was brought up, in demure tones, before the Human Rights Council, in Geneva. And, without a whisper of protest, the Council unanimously adopted it. UN Watch provides a link to that signal moment, caught on video, here. So far, so bad.
It gets worse. The United States holds one of the 47 seats on the Human Rights Council. When that report was adopted, unanimously, where was the U.S.? Where was U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. envoy to the Human Rights Council? Where was the voice of anyone from the U.S. delegation? In the video clip, the chamber looks largely empty, but there are some delegates present — it’s hard to figure out who they are. Did the U.S. even have someone in the chamber? Or were they all out at the cafes, talking about the virtues of “engagement”?
If the Obama administration’s rationale for saying nothing, doing nothing, and possibly not even being there, was that the U.S. had already added comments to the report, well — sorry, but that’s just not good enough. Here’s a link to the document. You can find the U.S. comments summarized in article 72, on page 12, where the U.S. “supported the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s increased engagement with the international community,” but “expressed concern” about reports of torture, arrest, etc., and “made recommendations.” That’s it?
The Obama administration’s oft-repeated justification for rejoining the Human Rights Council at all, let alone seeking the second term it now has, was that the U.S. would be in the thick of the action, influencing, reforming and instilling integrity into the debates. Above all, there would be “engagement.” What happened? Did no one at the State Department think this was important? Are they all asleep at the U.S. Mission in Geneva? Or have they wandered off into the Alps? Should we be sending out St. Bernard’s to look for our awol American diplomats?