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Maybe we should have more confidence in the UN.

Posted by Ed Davis, DPM on 3/17/03 at 14:57 (113224)

Perhaps we should have more confidence in the UN..... human rights....

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Libya Opens U.N. Human Rights Panel

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Mar 17, 11:00 AM (ET)


(AP) Libyan Najat Al-Hajjaji, UN President for Human Rights, speaks during the 59th session of the UN...
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GENEVA (AP) - Libya began its controversial leadership of the world's top human rights body Monday with pointed criticism of Israel as the U.N. agency began annual meetings overshadowed by an expected U.S.-led war against Iraq.

The body has always had trouble completing its work in six weeks, and many governments were calling for a special debate if war starts in Iraq.

'We are all about to be tested,' U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello said. 'Our fragile world needs guidance. Will we ... give that guidance, or will we let the chaos outside these walls come in?'

He said the meeting must not forget other major human rights issues, including the AIDS epidemic, the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories and the right to democracy and the rule of law.

Libya was appointed in January to head this year's meeting of the Human Rights Commission despite opposition from the United States, which said it was horrified that a country with such a poor human rights record could lead the body that censures rights abusers.

Libyan ambassador Najat Al-Hajjaji told the opening session that she hoped to represent all members of the 53-country commission and its observer states.

She later added that the Palestinian people are 'still being humiliated, killed, maimed and deprived of (their) right to self-determination.'

Al-Hajjaji denied that the statement compromised her neutrality as chair, pointing out that the commission backs the Palestinians' right to self-determination every year.

The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders was suspended from the commission's advisory body after six members tossed leaflets during Al-Hajjaji's speech denouncing the Libyan appointment as 'a sick joke.'

'What credibility can such a body have when led by the representative of a county where human rights are abused every day,' the leaflets said.

Al-Hajjaji said the meeting wasn't the place for the group to express its views. Reporters Without Borders said it didn't mind being suspended.

'We had already said we wouldn't participate in this masquerade,' Reporters Without Borders general secretary Robert Menard told The Associated Press. 'The ambassador can say what she wants, it has no importance. The United Nations has lost the last of its credibility.'

The commission studies abuses of human rights ranging from torture and killings to the failure of governments to ensure adequate food, housing and education for their people.

The State Department says 19 of the 53 nations on the commission have poor human rights records. Among them are Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Congo and Vietnam.

Al-Hajjaji said she was worried about a 'catastrophic war that will destroy everything and will certainly violate all human rights and especially the right to life.'

In a reference to nations' tightening of immigration rules to keep out terrorists, Al-Hajjaji said that 'some countries have taken coercive measures violating the rights of migrants and refugees and minorities and even the rights of those who seek visas.'

Vieira de Mello also expressed concern about anti-terrorism measures.

'When security is defined too narrowly - for example as nothing more than a state's duty to protect its citizens - then the pursuit of security can lead to the violation of the human rights of those who are outside the circle of the protected,' he said. 'That circle may be defined in geographical or other terms. The problem remains the same.'

Non-governmental groups are calling for the commission to appoint an investigator to study the effects of anti-terrorism measures being adopted around the world.

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Re: Maybe we should have more confidence in the UN.

Sharon W on 3/17/03 at 15:07 (113226)

Ugh. Libya as the Protector of Human Rights? Now THAT'S a real confidence-builder!

I remember the stories in the news about Libya's human rights violations during the Reagan years...


Re: Maybe we should have more confidence in the UN.

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/17/03 at 16:39 (113234)


One can view the manner in which the UN functions as a democratic process via the one country, one vote in the General Assembly. Nevertheless, when one considers that only a minority of countries making up the UN are democracies, how can democratic follow international 'law' as dictated by this bunch. By the way, Syria is on the security council.

Re: Maybe we should have more confidence in the UN.

Sharon W on 3/17/03 at 17:50 (113242)

Yeah, I knew about Syria being on the Security Council. And they do represent a certain culture and point of view, so that may be appropriate.

But Libya being in charge of protecting human rights is NOT appropriate!


Re: Maybe we should have more confidence in the UN.

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/17/03 at 18:17 (113247)

Equal opportunity for terrorists...

Re: Maybe we should have more confidence in the UN.

Sharon W on 3/17/03 at 18:38 (113251)

Yeah, it's like putting John Bobbitt in charge of a committee on women's rights...


Re: Maybe we should have more confidence in the UN.

Steve P on 3/17/03 at 19:51 (113254)

Large building on East River up for sale. Former home to communist spies & third world playboys ('ambassadors')living off tax dollars from the poorest countries on earth.

Immediate occupancy.