The 20th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council begins on June 18th. As the human rights forum that claims to be the global arbiter of such issues, the UNHRC has allotted time to discuss the myriad human rights abuses committed in recent months and years. The agenda focuses on:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo, where Bosco Ntaganda has built an army of child soldiers. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Ntaganda in August 2006.
- North Korea, where prison camps are filled with children who are born and die there, and in which as many as 200,000 people suffer conditions US envoys have called “worse than in the Soviet Union’s gulags.” Kim Il-Sung established these camps in the 1970s to persecute declared enemies of the state and their entire families for up to three generations.
- Sudan, where UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spent five days in May to observe just a few of the publically acknowledged ongoing atrocities.
- China, which needs no catalog of its human rights abuses. The Council is rumored to have invited dissident Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights activist who recently escaped house arrest and fled to the US, to present evidence on the Communist regime’s campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations.
Except… Not really. These nations are not currently scheduled for discussion. And what’s worse, you knew “not really” as you were reading through that list.
Here’s what’s really happening next week:
Israel is on the docket four times. The Council will review, among other things, the “illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip,” which a UN investigation declared legal under international law (maybe they missed something). The ongoing massacre in Syria, which has claimed more than 9,000 lives according to UN numbers, is the subject of only two reports. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has tried and failed to mitigate the crisis. Current Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon laid out the UN’s position last week, stating “the Syrian people are bleeding. They are angry. They want peace and dignity. Above all, they all want action… in view of the deteriorating situation I would welcome further international discussions on the way forward.”
The UNHRC is impotent. It has become fashionable to insist that it needs to be rethought, gutted, rebuilt, rethought, and maybe best left aside for awhile. Just because that sentiment is popular doesn’t make it wrong.