In its editorial, “The Durban Travesty” (Dec. 31), The Jewish Week performed a significant service by reminding its readers that Durban III is the brainchild of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The Council was created to replace the Commission on Human Rights because, as pointed out by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the commission was not only morally bankrupt but also was giving the whole UN a bad name. Annan’s initiative led to reform efforts, unfortunately short-circuited when the member-states rushed to a vote in 2006 for a flawed Council mandate, despite the pleas of the United States and 40 organizations of human rights advocates.
After five years we know that the Human Rights Council has earned a reputation that is far worse than that of the commission it replaced. The problem is the election to the Council of some of the worst human rights violators that brutalize their own people while aiding violent nongovernmental extremists. Once on the Council they use their dominance to praise and even congratulate each other, like the government of the Sudan, whose president Omar al-Bashir is under indictment for genocide. At the same time they deflect criticism from their abuses by focusing almost exclusively on Israel, with campaigns to demonize the Jewish state.
The UN is currently undertaking a five-year review of the work of the Council. The No. 1 priority should be to make sure that the worst human rights violators would no longer be eligible to stand for election to the Council. But so far the self-proclaimed moral voices of the UN, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, have remained silent on this issue despite repeated pleas for them to speak out.
We urge other organizations to join in reaching out to all in a position to promote the most meaningful reform of the Human Rights Council, one that would eliminate the possibility of the election to the Council of gross violators of human rights.
President, UN Reform Advocates