- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 15, 2002

As she prepared to leave office on September 11, U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson waxed indignant over the fallout from the atrocities that took place on American soil one year earlier. But Mrs. Robinson's primary displeasure wasn't directed at Osama bin Laden or the terrorists he sent to kill approximately 3,000 Americans. She was upset with U.S. efforts to prevent terrorists from committing future acts of mass murder.
According to Mrs. Robinson, the United States has been giving "human rights" short shrift in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Everything is justified by that T-word [terrorism]," Mrs. Robinson complains. Most upsetting to her is the U.S. military's detention of suspected al Qaeda and Taliban operatives at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Mrs. Robinson seems blissfully unaware that terrorism itself constitutes a major threat to human rights. When she was president of Ireland in the 1990s, Mrs. Robinson and other European leaders routinely did nothing when Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat diverted international aid money intended to better the lives of the Palestinian people to pay for his terrorist infrastructure. As Michael Rubin, a visiting fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, wrote on National Review Online: "The sad fact is that aid given by Robinson helped build the organizations that now kill children at pizzerias, teen-agers at discos, and pensioners at Passover seders … European funds enabled Arafat to purchase $50 million worth of sophisticated Iranian weaponry for use against civilians."
Mrs. Robinson's work in the U.N. human-rights office hardly has been much of an improvement. The highlight of her tenure was last year's international conference, held in Durban, South Africa, which was aimed at mobilizing the international community against racism and xenophobia. Unfortunately, Mrs. Robinson idly stood by while Iran and the Arab states hijacked the conference and turned it into a forum for issuing one-sided polemics against Israel, triggering a U.S. walkout. On April 15, her commission voted, in effect, to condone Palestinian suicide bombings against the Jewish state.
Mrs. Robinson will be replaced by Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian who has served in a variety of U.N. posts over the past few decades, including high commissioner for refugees. He would do well to learn from her many mistakes, and avoid Mrs. Robinson's practice of permitting democracies under siege by terrorists to be smeared as violators of human rights when they defend themselves.


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