- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 13, 2008


The U.N. Human Rights Council was supposed to improve upon the general discredit of its predecessor, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Instead, two years after its creation, it continues much the same: Verbiage in homage to human rights is issued at great length while the council excuses the world’s worst human-rights abusers. It then proceeds to target Western countries which mostly uphold human rights.

As another sign of business as usual: This week, we learn that the council employs Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice Emeritus at Princeton University, a man who thinks that it would be worth investigating “neoconservatives” to see if they perpetrated the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. How this pertains to human rights, except in the minds of those who trace the world’s evils to the United States government and cabals of the nefarious therein, is not clear.

In a world of genuine humanitarian catastrophes such as Darfur, Zimbabwe and North Korea, one might ask why the council should waste time pursuing the theories of “truthers” and conspiracy theorists. Make no mistake, this is conspiracy. Here are Mr. Falk’s views on the “neocons,” voiced in a radio interview and reported this week by the New York Sun: “It is possibly true that especially the neoconservatives thought there was a situation in the country and in the world where something had to happen to wake up the American people. Whether they are innocent about the contention that they made that something happen or not, I don’t think we can answer definitively at this point. All we can say is there is a lot of ground for suspicion,” lamenting an alleged lack of study.

To understand fully how we came to this moment, one must know the recent history of “human rights policy” at the United Nations. Per the U.N. “reformers,” it was not supposed to be this way. The old, discredited Commission on Human Rights is supposed to be a thing of the past. This new council was supposed to focus on genuine human-rights issues.

A few years ago, things surely seemed to bottom out. With a lofty mandate, the old commission filled its ranks with the world’s most egregious human-rights abusers, spending inordinate time on political hatchet work under the guidance of Zimbabwe, China and other beacons of liberty, while ignoring genuine human-rights crises. It eventually so abused its mission that it was voted out of existence by the U.N. Economic and Social Council — no scourge of government waste — on March 15, 2006. The Human Rights Council was supposed to be better.

But the new council immediately gave signs of business as usual. All the wrong governments spent much of 2007 securing high positions. Countries and officials of honest intent were blocked. Matters grew sufficiently unfavorable that the United States dropped its participation altogether.

Now we reach 2008. If ever there were a question that the new Human Rights Council has failed to raise itself above the shoddy record of yesteryear, the hiring of a “truther” should put the matter to rest. The “new, improved” U.N. human-rights body is just as bad as the embarrassment it replaced, if not worse.

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