11 April 2008

What $440 Million Supports

If there is one compelling argument that the United Nations is just plain broken, it is the farce that is the United Nations Human Rights Council. It is the successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights. The Commission was dismantled, in part, because the Commission’s member states did not guarantee human rights for their own populations. Indeed many of them did not recognize basic human rights for their own populations. The Commission itself also had a habit of focusing its attention and condemnations on Israel while almost entirely avoiding all other nations’ records.

That the Council might be a serious reformation of the Commission was a long shot at best. That the Council didn’t really, to the outside casual observer, change a thing is not all that surprising. That the West doesn’t see the UN structure as a serious liability to Western representative democracy is puzzling.

The Council has taken, time and time again, special focus on the actions of Israel while either completely ignoring or giving lip service to abuses elsewhere, like Sri Lanka, Darfur, and to actions of groups like Hezbollah and various Palestinian elements.

So it should come as no surprise that the Commission’s next special investigator of Israel is Richard Falk. Mr. Falk has compared Israel’s actions against Palestinians in Gaza to those of the Nazis (which, incidentally, is the fallback criticism of choice when no serious argument is ventured). According to the BBC:

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Richard Falk said he believed that up to now Israel had been successful in avoiding the criticism that it was due.

Professor Falk said he drew the comparison between the treatment of Palestinians with the Nazi record of collective atrocity, because of what he described as the massive Israeli punishment directed at the entire population of Gaza.

He said he understood that it was a provocative thing to say, but at the time, last summer, he had wanted to shake the American public from its torpor.

One wonders that Mr. Falk might proclaim once he takes his position on the Commission in order to “shake” the world from its apparent “torpor” with regard to Israel’s horrific, unprovoked oppression of Palestinians.

But if the ever-growing, shameful legacy of the Commission’s focus on Israel isn’t enough to persuade, there is the recent resolution made by the Commission concerning “religious defamation.” The resolution, according to the International Herald Tribune, “refers frequently to protecting all religions, the only religion specified as being attacked is Islam, to which eight paragraphs refer.” With that as a background, the IHT reports that “[t]he resolution ‘urges states to take actions to prohibit the dissemination ... of racist and xenophobic ideas’ and material that would incite to religious hatred. It also urges states to adopt laws that would protect against hatred and discrimination stemming from religious defamation.”

All of that sounds like a resolution supporting implementation of international thought police courtesy of a UN body. That the resolution specifically singles out Islam for protection – not Judaism, Christianity or any other religion – is more than an offhand sleight. It is an extension of historical railing against Israel and, by extension, the West.

According to a recent AP report, the US is scheduled to pay 22% of the UN’s $2 billion annual budget. That’s $440 million in dues to an international institution which cannot even think about living up to its own charter. That money might indeed be better spent elsewhere.

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