Sunday, February 26, 2006

UN Reform

The New York Times seems stunned that the UN's attempt to reform and improve its Human Rights Commission (which is being turned into the Human Rights Council in a bold and daring example of sweeping reform) has been watered down to the point that, in the words of the Times, "it has become an ugly sham, offering cover to an unacceptable status quo [that] should be renegotiated or rejected." The Times is so upset about this that, in what must be a fit of insanity, it has seen fit to praise US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton and his efforts to implement some real reform.

According to the Times:

Ideally, violators of the declaration should be barred from the new Human Rights Council, which would succeed the commission. Mr. Annan's original proposal did not go that far. But it significantly raised the bar by requiring a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly to win a seat. This essential change has been eliminated and replaced by a technical adjustment barely visible to the naked eye. Slates will still be nominated by regional blocs without regard to human rights performance. A few other incremental improvements are not enough to redeem this pathetic draft. Approving it, as groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International wrongly urge, would take off the heat for meaningful change.
This would be all well and good, but it's exceedingly unlikely to ever occur. The change would have to go through the Security Council, and as Russia and China would perceive themselves as unlikely to win seats on such a council -- or at least to have their human rights records publically examined and criticized -- it's hard to imagine them agreeing. The real question is: Why is the Times so shocked by this? The reaction reveals misplaced faith in an institution that is no longer suited to dealing with these kinds of international political and security challenges.

No comments: