Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Back to work!
Written by: Beck

OK, that was one whole post without mentioning the United Nations. Back to business.

A significant part of the reason the United Nations has degenerated to its current sorry state results from its many institutions having become captive elements of the very nations who are the worst offenders out there. I highlighted this once before when enumerating the number of UN commissions & committees of which Democratic Republic of the Congo is a member in good standing. The fact that Sudan remains on the UN Commission on Human Rights while the Sudanese government continues to sponsor genocide within the Darfur region, but the United States was voted off earlier this year only goes to show just how deplorable a state the entire organization has sunk to.

Joanne Mariner recently published an article in FindLaw in which she highlights just how the biggest abusers use the UN to protect themselves from any pressure to change or reform. Ultimately one must wonder how anyone in the world is to take the UN seriously when it coddles and protects the worst rulers in the world?
Sudan, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Russia: one thing these countries have in common is that their governments violate human rights flagrantly and systematically. But another thing they share, astonishingly enough, is membership on the U.N. body meant to monitor and prevent human rights violations.

Pakistan, China, Egypt, Congo--the list goes on. When it comes to rights-abusing countries, the 53-member U.N. Commission on Human Rights has plenty of depth.
Not only did the Commission on Human Rights fail to pass resolutions critical of China, Russia (for Chechnya), and Zimbabwe, but some of these resolutions were not even discussed. Both the Chinese and Zimbabwean governments relied on a procedural device, known as the "no-action motion," to prevent their resolutions from coming to a vote.

[...] The commission's response to the Darfur crisis also left something to be desired. At a moment when tens of thousands of refugees were fleeing ethnic cleansing in Sudan, the commission failed to pass a resolution condemning the country's grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, instead adopting a decision expressing watered-down concerns about the situation.

Even worse, the following month, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) voted to keep Sudan on the commission for another three years. (ECOSOC's decision to reelect Sudan was reminiscent of its decision, in 2003, to reelect Cuba to another term on the commission in the immediate wake of that country's crackdown on political dissidents.)

No one would suggest seating Jean-Claude Duvalier and Gen. Augusto Pinochet on the International Criminal Court, so why put the countries that are their equivalents on the U.N.'s main human rights body?
People can talk about reforming the UN all they want. Mariner certainly does, and she's much more cognizant of the UN's flaws than most. Let me spell this out as plainly as possible. Beyond cosmetic changes, the United Nations cannot successfully be reformed.

Why not? Simple: one country, one vote. There are 191 states in the UN. Far fewer than half of them are in any way free or democratic. Are you starting to see where I'm going with this? It doesn't matter what's on the books. These despots will bend over backwards to appear to compromise, make concessions, agree to changes--anything to keep the United States stamp of approval (and $7 billion annual funding). But when the rubber hits the road, not a single thing will change.

Rewrite all the bylaws you want, set all the criteria and standards you please, at the end of the day it's still one country one vote, and the bad guys are in the majority. The patient is dead, Jim. Time to move on.

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