In case you missed it this week — While America has been poring over the Rolling Stone article, and Iran has been bragging about 20% enriched uranium, the United Nations, in its own special way, has been making news with another Human Rights Moment.
The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council has just elected as a vice president the ambassador of — where else? — Cuba.
The Cuban News Agency is advertising this latest triumph as a vindication of “Cuba’s active and committed work as founding member of the UN Human Rights Council” and “its leadership in favor of the noblest causes.”
Cuba can now help lead such newly seated Human Rights Council members as the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya — which the 192 member UN General Assembly recently elected to the Council with 155 votes. For those who remember last year’s Durban Review Conference. convened in Geneva under the auspices of this same Human Rights Council, it may start to sound like old home week. The Durban Review Preparatory Committee was chaired by Libya, and featured Cuba as rapporteur. Same players, different chairs, flanked as ever by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (which likes to speak on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference). This is the UN human rights flagship that President Barack Obama decided the U.S. should join last year, in order to improve it by working from within. Since then, the Council has approved the Goldstone Report on Gaza, seated Libya, and handed vice-presidential bragging rights to Cuba. Scary, I guess, to think what it would be like by now without all that U.S. engagement.