Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December 8 Special Report: "The UN Human Rights Council"

On this occasion, HR abandons its stated purpose of watching the media to indulge in that all-time favourite activity for the pro-Israel zealots - shrill denunciation of the UN, especially its human rights body. As of June this year, the old Commission on Human Rights gave way to a new body, the Human Rights Council. The move was meant to address deficiencies in the old system, and the Israel cheer-leaders hoped that their team might get an easier run. The poor darlings have been immediately disappointed, leading to all the usual complaints,

The Council decided that Israel was abusing human rights and, to validate their predetermined conclusion, they ordered an investigation. The Council was very clear in what it expected the investigation to conclude.

As usual HR get their facts wrong. The Special Rappoutuer for the Occupied Territories has already reported on Israels extensive human rights violations. This is not predetermination, but simple fact .

Here’s the detail from the first session so you can see just how unfair the UNHRC is,

-reaffirmed that all acts of hostage-taking, wherever and by whomever committed, were a serious crime aimed at the destruction of human rights and were, under any circumstances, unjustifiable; strongly condemned all acts of hostage-taking anywhere in the world

-adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

-adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as proposed by the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights

-welcomed the report of the Open-ended Working Group with a view to considering options regarding the elaboration of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

-endorsed the conclusions and recommendations adopted by consensus by the Working Group on the Right to Development

-decided to extend exceptionally for one year, ……… the mandates and the mandate-holders of all the Commission's special procedures, of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

-the Human Rights Council decided to establish an intersessional open-ended intergovernmental working group to develop the modalities of the universal periodic review mechanism

-decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group to formulate concrete recommendations on the issue of reviewing and, where necessary, improving and rationalizing all mandates, mechanisms, functions and responsibilities in order to maintain a system of special procedures, expert advice and a complaint procedure

-welcomed the entry into force, on 22 June 2006, of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, following ratification by 20 States.

-endorsed the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on its fourth session

-requested the relevant Special Rapporteurs to report to the next session of the Council on the Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestine

-decided to request the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the next session on this phenomenon.

See, it’s all about Israel! Bias!!

HR then points to the Councils ‘Special Sessions’ to further press its claims of ‘bias’. The first called for an investigation into Israels conduct in the OT’s that had seen several hundred Palestinians killed in the previous months. And the second - can anyone name a UN member state that in July committed the international crime of armed aggression against a neighbouring sovereign state? Well, I can only come up with one name. Israel. Perhaps the UNHRC should have ignored this to show how committed they are to human rights.

HR then whines about that standard hasbara talking-point, Darfur, and how the UNHRC has done nothing on Darfur. Unfortunately for the incompetents at HR, just 4 days after they published this latest rubbish, the UNHRC convened a ‘Special Session’ on Darfur.

If only they weren’t such brain-dead apologists, they would have known that it was coming. Contrary to HRs accusations, the UNHRC had a very busy and varied agenda, so much so, that it couldn’t adopt resolutions at its second session (aside from one on Kyrgyzstan) and had to deal them at the third session which started on November 27.

If HR had taken the minimal effort to inquire, they would have found that the UNHRC was discussing human rights issues on the following countries during the second session in September,

"The Council also considered the reports of country-specific Special Rapporteurs and Experts, including on Belarus, Somalia, Cuba, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Cambodia, Haiti, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Sudan and Liberia”, as well as “Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan."
Maybe they forgot that Darfur is in Sudan. Or maybe they just never bothered their pretty little heads to find out what the UNHRC was actually doing.

The decision to hold the 4th Special Session on Darfur was announced on November 30th, more than a week before HRs latest and dumbest “Special Report”. The date for the 4th Special Session was then announced (PDF) on December 4th.

But these are mere facts. What use are they to HR when it has an axe to grind?

There was a further Special Session following the killing of 19 Palestinians by IDF artillery fire in Bayt Hanun. HR claims that it ignored Israeli concerns,

No mention was made of protecting Israeli civilians from further assault.

Of course HR is wrong, as usual. The UNHRC resolution,

urged all concerned parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, to refrain from violence against civilian populations and to treat under all circumstances all detained combatants and civilians in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949.

And HR desperately push the IDF PR line that the incident was,

an equipment malfunction…..terrible tragedy occurred due to an unintended accident. The government of Israel apologized immediately.....

Followed by the standard strategy of blaming the victims,

if the Palestinians had stopped firing rockets on Sderot, this accident could not have taken place.

HR should consult a dictionary on what constitutes an accident. Others could see this coming. This is what B’Tselem had to say in April when the IDF changed its firing regulations to allow artillary to be fired to within 100m of residential areas in the densely populated Gaza strip,

Three Israeli human rights organizations and two Palestinian organizations jointly wrote to the Israeli Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff demanding the cancellation of the decision to reduce the 'safety zone' for artillery fire on the Gaza Strip, due to the danger it poses to the civilian population and its cost in human lives.

Yes, this was no “unintended accident”, but the foreseen consequence of a voluntarily adopted policy.

HonestReporting – biased, unfair, inaccurate, dishonest. Exactly what we expect.