Friday, May 18, 2007

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back At The UN

It's been a good week for UN bashing, particularly with the election of Zimbabwe as the chair of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Today brings some mixed news...

Belarus, one of the most repressive states and worst human rights violators in the world, has been denied a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. This is at least one step forward for the UN, as it must be able to keep gross human rights violators from making a complete mockery of the HRC (of course, Belarus could have won the election, so it's not really much of a victory. Until the UN institutes some kind of standards for committee service this problem will continue to rear its ugly head).

However, the positive step of denying Belarus was somewhat mitigated by the election of Egypt, Angola, and Qatar to the HRC. According to UN Watch and Freedom House, these three states "are authoritarian regimes with negative U.N. voting records on rights issues and are not qualified to be council members." But why should that stop them from serving on the global watchdog of human rights? After all, the UN is more about sovereign equality than actually improving human rights. So long as it preferences the former over the latter, the UN will continue to be incapable of any real moral leadership.

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