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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

April 29, 2003

Human Wrongs

The U.N. can't define terrorism, let alone confront it.

Ms. Bayefsky, an adjunct professor at Columbia University Law School and professor of political science at York University, Toronto, is a member of the governing board of UN Watch.

She writes in The Opinion Journal of WSJ.
[...] More than a quarter of the commission's resolutions condemning a state's human rights violations passed over the last 30 years have been directed at Israel. There has never been a single resolution on China, Syria or Saudi Arabia. The current session ended by defeating a resolution to criticize anything about the situation in Zimbabwe, and by eliminating the 10-year-old position of rapporteur on human rights in Sudan. This was despite a report of the U.N. rapporteur on torture informing commission members of the Sudanese practice of "cross-amputation"--amputation of right hand and left foot for armed robbery, and various cases of women being stoned to death for alleged adultery.

Commission meetings themselves are a platform for incitement to hate and violence. At this year's session, the Iranian deputy foreign minister threatened what he called a "vicious circle" of violence and future "extremism" resulting from the Iraq war. The Cuban representative demanded action against "the most critical case of . . . massive and flagrant violations of human rights [and] of the systemic institutionalization of racism--that of the United States." The Algerian delegate said: "The Israeli war machine has been trying for five decades to arrive at a final solution." The Palestinian representative called for the "elimination" of "Zionist Nazism."

More generally, the U.N. has no definition of terrorism. Even in the immediate wake of Sept. 11, the General Assembly has not been able to adopt a comprehensive convention against terrorism. The members of the Organization of Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States have blocked consensus on any common understanding of terrorism. In the view of countries like Saudi Arabia, expressed again during the current commission, "we should distinguish between the phenomenon of terrorism and the right of peoples to achieve self-determination." The Syrian member of the Security Council likewise impedes the implementation of Council Resolution 1373, the resolution detailing post-9/11 responsibilities of states to fight terrorism.

[...]When it comes to the war against terrorism, Israel is again the canary in the U.N. coal mine. Israel has been demonized by the U.N. for decades over alleged violations of humanitarian law, while facing five successive wars and remorseless terrorist campaigns.

[...] The sad fact is that the U.N. is not only a failed leader in the protection of human rights, but is itself a substrate of xenophobia and aggression. The U.S. pays 22% of the U.N.'s regular budget. Yet today's U.N. operates in fundamental opposition to the values of the U.S.--and to its own universal human-rights foundations.