Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Ending the U.N. Commission on Human Rights

Ending the Commission on Human Rights
The U.N. Commission on Human Rights is rightly regarded as epitomizing the “dictators’ debating club” esthetic that some ascribe to the whole organization. Recent members of the Commission include Libya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, and Cuba—all of which are known for their deplorable records on human rights. Like clockwork, the Commission issues regular resolutions condemning Israel while overlooking real offenders—such as many of its members.

While Hyde’s legislation supports replacing the Commission on Human Rights—which can be regarded, by now, as sullied and unsalvageable—with a new Human Rights Council, it should explicitly call for the abolition of the Commission. To ensure this new body would be no facsimile of its predecessor, the legislation prohibits membership to countries that violate human rights or are subject to specific human rights resolutions. The bill also seeks to prevent the new Council from maintaining a standing agenda item that relates to one country or region. This would prevent the Council from singling out Israel the way that the Commission does today.

One improvement that could be made to this section of the bill would be to require that member states participating in the human rights bodies at the U.N. be democracies. Another would be to eliminate the General Assembly’s 3rd Committee (which addresses social, humanitarian and cultural affairs) to reduce redundancy.

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