Thursday, December 07, 2006

December 10th: Human Rights Day and NGO Action

The United Nations " spells — and it ought to spell — the end of the system of unilateral action, exclusive alliances, and spheres of influence, and the balances of power and all the other expedients which have been tried for centuries and have always failed" said President Roosevelt after the Crimean Conference where plans for the UN were laid. Yet today most of the expedients that Roosevelt said had always failed are back in full force. We see this clearly in the field of human rights.

Governments at the UN have developed to a fine art the ability to use human rights forums as a tool to deal with issues making no progress elsewhere. This is most notably true with the Israel-Palestine question, largely blocked in the Security Council. The conflict provides the subject for endless resolutions in the Commission on Human Rights, transformed in 2006 into the Human Rights Council. Alas, the resolutions change little on the ground. The same was true for a number of years during which there was no bilateral movement on the question of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Both states decided to move their differences to the UN Commission on Human Rights where they used up much time and energy with statements and points of order. Now China needs only mention "trade" in a soft voice for all pressure on human rights violations in China to disappear.
Read rest of this article by Rene Wadlow on Toward Freedom here.

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