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A discredit to the UN
The old, unreformed UN Human Rights Commission was selective and one- sided, but occasionally managed to do some good work. That may be more than can be said for its successor body, the Human Rights Council, born earlier this year of a weak-kneed compromise from which the United States stood honorably apart. If this is the best the United Nations can do at reforming itself, it isn't worth the effort.
The council is new, but its deliberations have already fallen into a shameful pattern. When it comes to the world's worst and most consistent human rights violators, like China, Iran, North Korea, Myanmar and Sudan, there has been a tendency to muffle words and conclusions and shift the focus from individual and political rights to broader economic and social questions.
But when it comes to criticizing Israel for violations committed in a wartime context that includes armed attacks against its citizens and soldiers, the council seems to change personality, turning harshly critical and uninterested in broader contexts.
As the council prepares to resume deliberations next week, an ad hoc coalition of human rights violators is pushing for an end to the practice of singling out individual countries for special criticism and follow-up investigations.
Those critical reports and follow- ups were the most useful thing the old unreformed commission used to do. The problem was that many other deserving targets were shielded by their diplomatic allies. Moving away from the practice altogether would be a decided step backward.
To inspire respect and support, the United Nations must be more than a self-protective club of sovereign states. The test of that is whether it is willing to defend the basic human standards embodied in a succession of UN declarations and conventions. The new Human Rights Council now seems headed for a failing midterm grade.
Hat Tip: www.scottishfriendsofisrael.org
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