- Marionville mayor ‘kind of agreed’ with Kansas City shooter’s views
- Rev. Al Sharpton’s Easter message: Politically ‘crucified’ Obama has risen again
- Supreme Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
- UNICEF launches ‘Mr. Poo’ mascot in India to curb public defecation
- Teen taking selfie by train: ‘Wow, that guy just kicked me in the head’
- Goodbye, Afghanistan — hello, Africa: Air Force to shift as U.S. exits Middle East
- Iran mulls ban on vasectomies, decrease on abortions to bolster population
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers ‘more deadly than jihadists’
- Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings
- ABC News accuses Center for Public Integrity of stealing Pulitzer-winning work
U.N. rights panel off to rocky start
The United Nations’ revamped human rights body has thus far failed to live up to reformers’ expectations, with its first two special sessions devoted to slamming Israel’s handling of the war in Lebanon, senior U.S. officials said yesterday.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mark Lagon said the Bush administration was “disappointed” with the work to date of the new U.N. Human Rights Council, created this spring to replace the ineffectual and widely disparaged U.N. Commission on Human Rights.
While the United States still has hopes the new panel can be effective, “unfortunately, the new council’s sessions so far have been disappointing,” Mr. Lagon told a hearing of the House International Relations subcommittee on Africa, global human rights and international organizations.
“Much work remains to be done if the new council is to become an improvement over its discredited predecessor,” Mr. Lagon said.
The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and a leading voice on human rights issues in Congress, also criticized the early work of the council.
Despite the “congratulatory euphoria” of the council’s creators earlier this year, “the new human rights machinery remains broken, in need of serious repair and fundamental reform,” Mr. Smith said.
Pushed by the new council’s Islamic members, the body held its first two special sessions in July and August to condemn Israel’s conduct in the Lebanon conflict, Mr. Smith noted, while ignoring the humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region or ongoing rights violations in countries like China, Burma, North Korea and Zimbabwe.
“The victims of abuse throughout the world deserve better, and, thus far, they haven’t gotten it,” he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pushed an overhaul of the human rights body as the centerpiece of a larger drive to reform the operations of the United Nations itself.
Critics slammed the old 53-member Commission on Human Rights for its ineffectual record and for the ability of the world’s worst human rights violators — including Libya, Sudan and China — to gain seats on the body and block action against them.
The new, streamlined 47-nation Human Rights Council was designed to revise the election process to keep the worst violators off the panel, while giving the body more flexibility to deal with human rights crises and review the records of nations that apply for seats. The Bush administration pushed for deeper reforms and, in the end, was one of four countries to vote against the new panel.
Mr. Lagon and Erica Barks-Ruggles, deputy assistant secretary for human rights, told the House hearing the new human rights body has brought some positive changes, with countries like Zimbabwe and Sudan opting not to run under the new voting membership rules. Still, they noted, China and Cuba were among the countries winning seats on the new council.
By F.H. Buckley
Obama has taken imperious overreach to new extremes
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- CARSON: Recovering Tocqueville's vision of American exceptionalism
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
- UNICEF launches 'Mr. Poo' mascot in India to curb public defecation
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.