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January 20, 2003

More United Nations Self-Parody

In what Israel's UN ambassador, Yaakov Levy, understatedly calls a "new low" for the United Nations Human Rights Commission, its African electorate has nominated Libya to serve as the Chair of that august and effective body. Normally, the leadership post is uncontested, but the United States, outraged, called for a vote on the matter, the first of its kind since the body's inception in 1947. The nomination was upheld 33 to 3, with 17 abstentions.

Where to begin? Two years ago, the UN Economic and Social Council, which is the umbrella organization within the UN that is responsible for HRC elections, voted to remove the United States from serving in the group, the first time it had ever been deposed. Concurrently, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda were elected to serve on the body.

Now, Libya moves to occupy the chair for the next two to three years at least. The icing on this farcical cake is the neat demonstration of the Annan UN's worthlessness, seeing as Libya is currently laboring under "suspended" UN sanctions!

"Libya was chosen despite still officially facing suspended U.N. sanctions for its links to the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland."
What a slap in the face to the Pan Am 103 families.

Joanna Weschler, the UN representative of Human Rights Watch, the New York-based human rights advocacy group that recently joined Amnesty International in calling for inaction against Iraq, sums up the situation:
"Weschler also said the 53-member commission was turning into an "abuser solidarity" group with more and more countries with questionable human-rights records gaining election and then voting as a bloc not to single out individual nations for human rights abuses."
Here's Human Rights Watch's repository of UN human rights abuses, and an article that addresses the despotic trends within the Human Rights Commission.

Some things to consider: on the eve of war with Iraq, take with two or three shovels of salt any condemnations that arise from HRC. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how Qaddafi uses this coup to advance his image makeover, and, more importantly, his diplomatic conquest of sub-Saharan Africa. Surely his government's nomination to HRC's leadership role, supported by Mandela and Mbeki (who increasingly surpass the worst traits of the imperialist leaders they replaced), demonstrates great progress in this endeavor.

Also, the Human Rights Commission, which has previously dedicated itself to bullying Israel, can now act with renewed vigor. Its only "agenda item" directed at a single state is against Israel, according to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Although, to be fair, ambassador Levy has opined that things probably won't change much on a day to day basis.

Finally, remember that Arab north Africa is the world's only remaining locus of black chattel slavery. We'll see how deafening the silence on this issue that has preceded Libya's election can become.

Cross-posted at Fightin' with Grabes.