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Contentions

What Human-Rights Violations?

On Friday, March 23, Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, gave a speech before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. He took the Council stingingly to task:

Six decades ago, in the aftermath of the Nazi horrors, Eleanor Roosevelt, Réné Cassin, and other eminent figures gathered here, on the banks of Lake Geneva, to reaffirm the principle of human dignity. They created the Commission on Human Rights. Today, we ask: What has become of their noble dream?

In this session we see the answer. Faced with compelling reports, from around the world, of torture, persecution, and violence against women, what has the Council pronounced, and what has it decided?

Nothing. Its response has been silence. Its response has been indifference. Its response has been criminal.

Neuer went on to note the strange fact that the Council, in the face of flagrant abuses of human rights, ranging from the murder by Hamas gunmen of three Palestinian children in Gaza City to the mass rapes and genocide in Darfur, has enacted numerous resolutions condemning Israel—and none condemning any other state. (Joshua Muravchik made a similar observation in this post.)

As shocking as this is, the response of Council president Luis Alfonso de Alba shocks still further:

For the first time in this session I will not express thanks for that statement. I shall point out to the distinguished representative of the organization that just spoke, the distinguished representative of United Nations Watch, if you’d kindly listen to me. I am sorry that I’m not in a position to thank you for your statement. I should mention that I will not tolerate any similar statements in the Council. The way in which members of this Council were referred to, and indeed the way in which the Council itself was referred to, all of this is inadmissible. In the memory of the persons that you referred to, founders of the Human Rights Commission, and for the good of human rights, I would urge you in any future statements to observe some minimum proper conduct and language. Otherwise, any statement you make in similar tones to those used today will be taken out of the records.

This is the first speech ever to be rejected in this way by the Council. Proof, one might argue, of the speech’s truth and value. Read the whole text of Neuer’s speech (and watch it on video) here.



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