The Rosett Report

Venezuela and Pakistan, Shoo-Ins For the UN Human Rights Council?

You won’t find this information posted yet on the United Nations web site, because when the UN General Assembly “elects” countries to the 47 member seats on the UN Human Rights Council, the Assembly doesn’t inconvenience itself with such norms as transparency, or plenty of advance notice — let alone candidacies based on merit. Seats are first allotted via quotas for regional groups, and all too often these groups produce slates in which there is only one candidate per seat. Candidacies are usually hashed out in backrooms, little or nothing is divulged about what favors were exchanged, or what deals were cut, and by the time the public gets wind of anything, the fix is in. That how the Human Rights Council managed to end up with members such as Qaddafi’s Libya, and why it currently fields such violators as Cuba, Cameroon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and China.

Here we go again. Drawing on information from anonymous sources “close to the UN,” the Geneva-based watchdog NGO, UN Watch, just broke the news that in the next round of “elections” to the Human Rights Council, expected around May, Venezuela and Pakistan have already lined up arrangements to run, unopposed, for seats on the Council.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, notes that in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez “throws judges and critics in jail, bullies young student activists and uses his UN vote to shield the atrocities of others.” I’d add that Chavez has also made it his business to be best pals with Iran’s jackboot regime, welcome Hezbollah’s terrorist network into Latin America, and has ushered Venezuela’s oil-rich economy into the 21st century as a thug-ridden wreck. Chavez is ill, reportedly looking again to the vaunted medical care of his buddies in Cuba to save him, but that has not yet translated into the salvation of Venezuela.

Pakistan, says Neuer, “persecutes religious minorities” to the extent that “Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, is on death row…under Pakistan’s medieval blasphemy law. Pakistan’s judicial system punishes women who are victimized by rape instead of the rapists.” Here I’d add that Pakistan during a previous round as a member of the Human Rights Council, was a vociferous cheerleader, representing the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now “rebranded” as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation)  for the anti-Semitic Durban II conference, which met in Geneva in April, 2009, featuring Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as one of the star speakers.

Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. refused to dignify the morally corrupt UN Human Rights Council with U.S. membership. When President Obama took office, in 2009, he overturned that policy. The U.S. became a member, with Ambassador Susan Rice arguing that joining this cabal was the best way to work change from within. This news from UN Watch raises the question of how it happens that the Asian and Latin American regional groups are now planning to put up Pakistan and Venezuela, respectively, as unopposed candidates for seats. Have American diplomats been asleep at the switch? Will anything now be done in the diplomatic backrooms to persuade these groups to produce decent alternatives? Or must we wait until horrors erupt in the next crop of abusers, on a par with that in Libya last year, before the eminences of the UN are persuaded to notice that they still stacking the UN’s erstwhile top human rights body with some of the world’s nastier abusers of human rights?

Rather than preparing to “elect” Venezuela and Pakistan unopposed onto the Human Rights Council, the members of the UN General Assembly could better try cleaning up the mess they’ve already got. Saudi Arabia currently sits on the Council. Saudi Arabia is where 23-year-old blogger Hamza Kashgari, having tweeted comments the Saudi authorities deemed blasphemous, is now facing a possible death penalty, by beheading, for “apostasy.” (For more, see Barry Rubin’s PJMedia post on “Manufacturing Heresy.”) Saudi Arabia’s current term on the Human Rights Council ends with this next round of elections. That means there’s still time to kick Saudi Arabia off the Council, as a good first step toward clarifying why Venezuela and Pakistan should not be welcome to join. Yes, I know — ain’t gonna happen. But let’s at least be clear what the U.S. is dignifying with its company (and its taxpayer money), and what we’re really talking about, when we talk about the UN “Human Rights” Council.