Feb 13 2010
While Iran’s regime bloodies its dissidents, the nuclear weapons-loving mullahs are seeking a treat for themselves at the United Nations: Iran is running for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council.
[All photos show examples of Iranian brutality]
Utterly perverse though it would be, Iran might snag that prize. Five contenders have stepped forward: Malaysia, Maldives, Qatar, Thailand–and Iran. The winners will be chosen in May, by secret ballot of the 192-member U.N. General Assembly–a notoriously thug-friendly body, run this year by a former foreign minister of Libya.
The Human Rights Council is, in theory, the U.N.’s leading body dedicated to protecting human rights and condemning their abusers. If Iran’s government wins a seat on this council, it would send a horrifying message to Iranian dissidents. They have been enduring mass arrests, beatings and murders in their quest for genuine human rights inside Iran.
This brand of U.N. legitimacy for Iran would compound the farce of U.N. sanctions, which have so far failed to stop Iran’s nuclear ventures. It would be more evidence that President Barack Obama was mistaken when he claimed that Iran was becoming “more isolated.”
It would also deal another blow to Obama’s policy of “engagement.“ The current Human Rights Council is the product of U.N. “reform” four years ago, in which it replaced the old U.N. Commission on Human Rights–which grossly discredited itself with a membership stacked with dictatorships, and in 2003 chose a Libyan envoy as its chair. Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan promised the new council would usher in a new era of decency. The Bush administration, with John Bolton then serving as ambassador to the U.N., disagreed, saying there were not enough safeguards against tyrannies again hijacking the new council. The U.S. at the time declined to legitimize the new council by seeking a seat.
President Barack Obama reversed that in mid-2009. The U.S. became a member of the Human Rights Council, as part of Obama’s push for greater U.S. involvement with the U.N. Obama’s ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, explained at the time that the administration believed progress could better be made by “working from within.”
So, it seems, does Iran. Meanwhile U.S. membership on the council has done nothing to deter Iran’s regime from beating and shooting protesters in the streets, as witnessed by the entire world since Iran’s hotly disputed June 2009 presidential election. Even the U.N. General Assembly, prompted by Canada, managed to pass a resolution last October condemning Iran for torture, stoning, arrests and so forth.
But the U.N. Human Rights Council has yet to issue a single resolution condemning Iran, or appoint an investigator, or hold a single special session on Tehran’s brutalities. At U.N. Watch, a nongovernmental watchdog in Geneva, executive director Hillel Neuer keeps a tally of activities at the council–where current membership already includes such abusers as Russia, China and Saudi Arabia. Neuer says that since the council was launched in mid-2006, it has issued 33 condemnatory resolutions. Of these, half a dozen have concerned Burma and North Korea. The other 27 have focused on condemning Israel, while absolving its attackers, including the Iranian-backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. FORBES