Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Anne Bayefsky on the new UN Human Rights Council

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a professor at Touro Law School, and the editor of She is an internationally renowned expert on international human rights, so how could I not post her opinion of the UN Human Rights Council, right? Well, here's the article she authored in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle (this op-ed first appeared in the Weekly Standard), but copied below are some comments I found particularly worrisome:

There has been a massive disinformation campaign concerning the U.N. Human Rights Council, operated by General Assembly President Jan Eliasson, Secretary General Kofi Annan, and U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, with added muscle from Ted Turner's U.N. Foundation and financier George Soros.

Is she in her right mind? And can we please see some evidence of this "disinformation campaign" in place of these sweeping statements?

In short, nothing has changed. The newly "reformed" human rights body of the United nations will once again include countries that have no interest in protecting human rights; the regions of the world with the fewest democracies will hold 55 percent of the seats. Standing in the background lamenting U.S. nonparticipation are some, like Amnesty International's Irene Khan, who believe that the "gulag of our times" is Guantánamo -- not the Egyptian, Syrian, Iranian and Sudanese torture chambers -- and that the business of promoting human rights is best conducted with the delinquents on the inside, enjoying the privileges of the human rights club, instead of standing outside until they reform.

Sen. Frist suggests a bold new direction for the international promotion of human rights outside the United Nations. The time is ripe for such an initiative.

Bayefsky's reference to Irene Khan's comments proved to be very thought-provoking for me. If one analyzes the UN Security Council closely and looks at the members who hold veto power, can one really say they've played an active role in the maintenance of peace and security in the world? US interventions in Vietnam, East Timor, Korea, and now in Afghanistan and Iraq, prove that being a member of an entity like a UN subsidiary body or agency does not ensure that what the members set out to do will in actuality ever happen. On the one hand, it is difficult to undertake such grand endeavors but on the other hand, wielding such power should make the bearers of the power realize that they have a great responsibility upon their shoulders. Can one really say with a straight face that the UN SC veto bearing powers have played the role expected of them?

I think not.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Miscellaneous comments on the Human Rights Council

Ever since the US announced it would not consider membership to the newly created Human Rights Council of the United Nations, many international affairs experts have expressed deep remorse and regret. I thought i'd put post their views here as well.

Comments by Ambassador William Leurs, President of the United Nations Association, can be found here.

Comments by Ambassador Tim Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, can be found here.

Comments by Jeffrey Laurenti, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation, can be found here.

Christian Science Monitor on Israel Lobby report

I found this Christian Science Monitor article to be one of the most comprehensive pieces on the issue, gathering information and commentary from a wide variety of sources including Foreign Policy, the Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, the Jerusalem Newswire, and other media outlets. A must read if you dont have time, but want a good gist of arguments and viewpoints.