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Clark for UN Human Rights Council

  • June 28th, 2008

Murray McCully’s weekly newsletter is not web-published, so here is his latest bulletin (only change the MFAT link)-

Clark for UN Human Rights Role???
The announcement that New Zealand has declared its candidacy for membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council raises a number of interesting questions. Like why are we doing this? And what do we hope to achieve? A website was launched to support New Zealand’s candidacy last week. And no doubt some considerable sums of cash will be sunk into MFAT lobbying. All in the cause of winning election to one of the more disreputable institutions to be spawned out of the United Nations in recent years.

The UN Human Rights Council was established in March 2006 to replace the totally discredited UN Human Rights Commission. That organisation had morphed into an assembly of dictatorships, terrorist sympathisers and outright whackos (including such human rights luminaries as Zimbabwe, Syria, Libya and China). The final straw was the uncontested election to the Commission chair of Sudan, the home of ethnic cleansing. Even the United Nations was embarrassed to own them.

The new Council of 47 elected members was designed to establish a credible UN assembly to focus on international human rights issues. But the track record to date has not been promising. Devoting much of its efforts to regular criticisms of Israel, the Council voted down (22-20) a resolution calling on the Sudanese Government to prosecute those responsible for killing raping and injuring innocent civilians in Darfur.

Britain has recently been the very fortunate recipient of the Council’s wisdom. A Sri Lankan initiative was passed calling on Britain to abolish the monarchy and have a written constitution. Sri Lanka, it would be fair to say, has less than an unblemished track record on human rights issues in recent times. But so busy has the Council been persecuting Israel and dealing with pressing human rights issues around the British monarchy that human rights abuses in Tibet, China, Zimbabwe, Burma and a variety of other places have not attracted the Council’s interest, let alone condemnation.

Last week, the Human Rights Council elected Nigeria as Council chair for the next year. An interesting call since Nigeria has been the subject of more than a little comment on the human rights front. Minor matters like gross irregularities in recent presidential, governorship and assembly polls. And the odd bit of armed thuggery and murder against opposing candidates and their supporters. Then there are the examples of extra-judicial executions that Amnesty International reported in the Niger Delta. Oh, and the reports of intimidation and harassment against journalists and human rights activists. Clearly these are just the guys to be heading up the UN Human Rights Council.

So why, we wonder, has New Zealand decided to use valuable MFAT time and money campaigning to join this illustrious body? The United States has just made the decision to pull out of active participation. But hey, if New Zealand does win a seat around the Council table from 2009 there is one very significant benefit. Hopefully by next year Helen Clark will be freed up from other duties and available to become our Permanent Representative. A few quick tales on her excursions with the Electoral Finance Act  and she would be bound to win any ballot for the chair. The perfect retirement role for our UN-centric Prime Minister.



  • Chuck Bird
  • June 29th, 2008
  • 11:31 am

It would be nice to hear Helen’s view on the right’s of the disabled to special parking spaces.

Gravatar is available at [Thanks Graeme – but whenever I’ve tried that URL recently it is unavailable. I wonder if he still operates it.]

  • JohnMacC
  • July 11th, 2008
  • 9:52 pm

Hi Stephen – Murray’s website is still up and running and an entertaining weekly read. It could do with a spruce-up tho.

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