Wednesday, August 09, 2006

UN "Human Rights" Council - Business as usual

Muslim countries Tuesday pushed the newly formed United Nations Human Rights Council to hold a special session to condemn Israel for its military offensive in Lebanon. [....]

[This] collective focus contrasts sharply with a relatively muted level of condemnation for Hezbollah, whose daily rocket attacks fired indiscriminantly into northern Israel follow the group's July 12 raid on Israel that sparked the fighting.

"These moves cap a month-long mad rush of Geneva-based UN human rights bodies and officials to condemn Israel over its actions in Lebanon," said Hillel Neuer, executive director off the Geneva-based UN Watch.

What's more, some of the outrage is in reaction to initial death-toll estimates later found to be inflated. [....]

The UN created the 47-member Human Rights Council this year because the former 53-member Human Rights Commission had become virtually controlled by countries with poor human rights records that wanted to short-circuit criticism of their records.

Muslim countries and their backers also used their voting majority to disproportionately single out Israel for condemnation leading the council's architects to say the new body should refrain from staging sessions devoted to attacking one country.

Yet the council's only "country-specific" session so far last month saw member states vote 29-11 to deplore Israel's military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Well, sure. What other country ever commits human rights violations?

--Jeff Weintraub
=====================
National Post (Canada)
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
UN considers session to condemn Israel
Steven Edwards, CanWest News Service

UNITED NATIONS - Muslim countries Tuesday pushed the newly formed United Nations Human Rights Council to hold a special session to condemn Israel for its military offensive in Lebanon.
The move came as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called separately for a "comprehensive investigation" into the Israeli strike on the Lebanese town of Qana last month, saying the resulting civilian deaths "could be ... a pattern of violations of international law" by Israel.
The UN's intensified scrutiny of Israel adds to questions already raised about the country's record in the war by UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour, a former Canadian Supreme Court justice, and the monitoring group Human Rights Watch.
But for other observers, the collective focus contrasts sharply with a relatively muted level of condemnation for Hezbollah, whose daily rocket attacks fired indiscriminantly into northern Israel follow the group's July 12 raid on Israel that sparked the fighting.
"These moves cap a month-long mad rush of Geneva-based UN human rights bodies and officials to condemn Israel over its actions in Lebanon," said Hillel Neuer, executive director off the Geneva-based UN Watch.
What's more, some of the outrage is in reaction to initial death-toll estimates later found to be inflated.
Annan himself confirms the number killed at Qana is now believed to be 28, half of them children. While still tragically high, that count is far lower than the estimate of "at least 54" he cited before the UN Security Council last week.
The revision reflects Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's admission Monday that the number of Lebanese civilians killed in an Israeli strike at Houla the same day had not been "more than 40," as he said when he called the deaths a "massacre" in an emotional address before Arab foreign ministers in Beirut. The revised figure is one.
The UN created the 47-member Human Rights Council this year because the former 53-member Human Rights Commission had become virtually controlled by countries with poor human rights records that wanted to short-circuit criticism of their records.
Muslim countries and their backers also used their voting majority to disproportionately single out Israel for condemnation leading the council's architects to say the new body should refrain from staging sessions devoted to attacking one country.
Yet the council's only "country-specific" session so far last month saw member states vote 29-11 to deplore Israel's military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
China, Cuba, Russia and South Africa were among non-Arab Council members that made up 16 countries endorsing the Tunisian request for a new session focused on Israel.
That met the requisite 33 per cent threshold.
They asked that the session, which officials said would be held Thursday or Friday, consider the strike on Qana as well as "countrywide targeting of innocent civilians and destruction of vital civilian infrastructure."
Canada opposed the July condemnation of Israel, five countries abstained, and the United States and Israel, which are not members, charged it represented a continuation of the anti-Israel bent of the former commission.
Annan's call for a wider probe into the Qana strike was contained in a report the UN Security Council requested last week that he deliver within seven days.
He said that was not enough time to uncover all the facts, but nevertheless strongly hinted the attack could constitute a war crime.
The July 30 strike destroyed a residential building that Lebanese authorities said civilian victims had picked as a refuge because of its reinforced basement.
Israel said in a report it attacked the area because it had information Qana served as a regional headquarters for Hezbollah.
"It contains extensive weapons stockpiles, serves as a haven for fleeing terrorists, and is the source of over 150 missiles launched into northern Israel," said the report, submitted to the UN.
But Annan said the UN could not confirm the Israeli assertions, though he noted UN peacekeepers deployed in the border area with Israel do not cover Qana.
Israel's own investigation said the attack on the building was a mistake, and its forces would not have targeted it had they known civilians were inside.
The Security Council, which last week expressed its "extreme shock and distress" at the bombing, will decide in the coming days whether to accept Annan's call for a fuller probe.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home