The United Nations “Human Rights Council” is a joke

Here’s a short but powerful speech (two minutes long) given yesterday before the Human Rights Council at the UN. I have no idea who the passionate young woman is (she appears to represent the UN Watch group), but I know of the three incidents of rape she recounts.

The countries she names are, of course, Muslim-majority countries, with an abysmal record of treating women fairly and equally. Saudi Arabia, among the worst offenders, has a seat on the Council as well as a leadership position on one of its panels. As the Washington Post writes, noting that the U.S. also bears the stain of human-rights violations:

Saudi Arabia had earlier this year sought the leadership slot of the entire Human Rights Council of the U.N., a move that drew criticism given the country’s human rights record. The kingdom routinely comes in at the bottom of Freedom House’s rankings of world freedom.

“Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights,” UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said in a statement. “This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members.”

Some observers have questioned why Saudi Arabia has a seat at the 47-member Human Rights Council at all. But many countries on the council have enacted laws that are at odds with the U.N.’s official stances. To take one obvious example, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights advocates against capital punishment, saying that “the death penalty has no place in the 21st century.”

But a number of countries on the council, including the U.S., actively sentence people to death and execute them each year. In 2014, council member countries executed at least 139 prisoners, contrary to the commissioner’s stated position. That doesn’t include executions by China, which also sits on the council and where experts agree that annual execution numbers run into the thousands. Exact numbers on capital punishment in China are hard to come by, as official sources are generally seen to be unreliable.

This tw**t was published by The Independent:

And of course it’s barbaric that the U.S. is the only First World country (unless you count Japan) that retains the death penalty. What kind of example is that?

h/t: netmyst


  1. geckzilla
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I felt the familiar swell of violent thoughts when the man at the end commanded, “No applause, please.”

    • Posted June 18, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      It looks as if the Secretary of the council, sitting next to the presiding Vice President, told him to mention the “no applause.”

      • geckzilla
        Posted June 18, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        There are probably rules and reasons to keep civility and sanity, but nonetheless I felt myself blaming him. One wonders how far we can go with civility.

  2. gary
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Supporting Jerry’s position,

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      There are a lot of problems with the UNHRC and also the UN Security Council. There the US uses their veto power constantly to protect Israel. Russia and China use their veto power to protect themselves. It’s obviously ridiculous that countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Zimbabwe and China have never been pinged.

      However, I’d rather have the UN than not have it. While it needs major reform, it’s still a place almost the whole world gets together and I wouldn’t want to lose that.

      And I agree with Jerry that it’s about time the US abandoned the death penalty. What is it about religious countries and the death penalty? I thought the Lord said, “Vengeance is Mine.”

      • Mark R.
        Posted June 18, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        The more religious a country, the more punitive it seems. Though Japan and China don’t fit that generalization.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 18, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, there are usually outliers. The US is unusually wealthy for a religious country too.

      • Posted June 21, 2016 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        I am glad that the US protects Israel.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      This is good, thanks for posting. Actually makes the U.S. Congress seem functional by comparison.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 18, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        The United Nations is a waste of time and lots of money. It’s hard to imagine a more useless organization. Oh yes, religion.

        • rickflick
          Posted June 18, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          I wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. The U.N. provides a forum which may have already and could potentially in the future save civilization from an abrupt termination. Yes, there are wicked hypocrisies, but, as Heather says above, “it’s still a place almost the whole world gets together and I wouldn’t want to lose that.”

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted June 18, 2016 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

            Seldom does anyone say much to my comments so I tend to forget about them. Thanks for the click.

            All things should be assessed by a cost/benefit don’t you think? I see the U.S. as mostly carrying the cost and getting very little benefit here. Nearly 8 Billion a year we throw at this organization and no other country pays half what we do with most paying much less. 193 members and we throw in 22% of the cost. So, if you can explain how we get our money’s worth on this, let me have it.

            • rickflick
              Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

              A cost-benefit analysis you seem to want is probably impossible. The value of avoiding a potential war is not something you can put a dollar cost to. But, just think of the benefit of sitting around the table with representatives of hundreds of other countries and being able to state your case. We can never tell what effect a given speech or voting action will have on the history of mankind, but abandoning the attempt to provide a forum for discussion does not seem like the best choice.
              I can think of one simple example of a known benefit. In 1948 Elanor Roosevelt sponsored the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the U.N.. It has been elaborated on since then. It is now a standard which all nations can be held to. Although it does not hold the force of law, it is a valuable benchmark for advancing human rights.
              I’m sure there are some here with a deeper understanding of the workings of the U.N. who could add to this.

            • Dick Veldkamp
              Posted June 19, 2016 at 6:14 am | Permalink

              You cannot reaaly blame the UN. Whatever ineffectiveness there is in the organisation, is almost 100% due to the member states themselves.

              Also keep in mind that the UN is much more than the General Assembly and the Security Council.

              I think a strong case can be made that imperfect though it is, the UN on the whole is a force for good. To give one example, Steven Pinker presents evidence in his book that UN peacekeeping actually works.

              Then there is UNICEF, the WHO, the ILO, and all those other UN agencies you never hear about.

            • Gordon
              Posted June 19, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

              Largely because contributions are based on Gross National Income of which the US has the largest. The budget cap for contributions is 22% (reduced from 25% in 2000).

              US GDP is about 22% of world GDP – couldn’t find figures for GNI proportions

  3. keith cook + / -
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I don’t care what the president says:
    clap! clap! clap! clap! clap! clap! clap!

    as toothless as the UN is, how many complete multi nation platforms are around where a women gets the opportunity to voice alarmingly outrageous facts about an abysmally deluded country like Saudi Arabia on their human rights and they have to suck it.
    The pity is that we need more of it and on prime time reporting programmes.

  4. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Saudi Arabia demands it be removed from UN Blacklist or it pulls funding for UN children programs. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon complied:
    United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon removed Saudi Arabia from a U.N.-blacklist of violators of children’s human rights, after initially placing their Yemen coalition on the list last Thursday. The decision resulted in a massive outcry from rights groups who lambasted Ki-moon’s “flip-flopping.”

    Saudi Arabia criticized the U.N. for a recent report that said the coalition it is leading in Yemen was resulting in over 60 percent of child deaths there. “Last week’s U.N. report said the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen in 2015, killing 510 and wounding 667,” Reuters reported. “It also said the coalition carried out half the attacks on schools and hospitals.
    “How did Saudi Arabia get itself and some of it’s gulf allies get taken off a United Nations blacklist of countries which harm and kill children? The Saudis threatened to cut funding to crucial programs, or even place the U.N. under an Islamic religious ban through a mass fatwa.”

    “This was one of the most painful and difficult decisions I have had to make,” lamented Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the U.N., on Thursday, according to a report from CBS News and The Associated Press.

    Reuters quoted Ban saying he faced the prospect of “[c]hildren already at risk in Palestine, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and so many other places would fall further into despair,” if the Saudi kingdom withdrew funding.

  5. Posted June 20, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I agree that the SA human rights record is reprehensible. However, I also wonder what sort of criteria should be used if one is to not allow them to participate on such grounds.

    I also recently read a history of SA, which made the point that incrementalism may be necessary. For example, it seems that if SA were to have open candidate free elections they’d elect even *more* Islamist oriented candidates. Think of what happened in Egypt, for example, only worse.

  6. factfromfiction
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Factfromfiction and commented:
    Great blog article by Why Evolution is True, addressing the matter of the United Nations Human Rights Council and how the council itself finds itself in an almost Orwellian state of affairs. Leading members are now some of the worst violators on earth and until we address this matter, once has to think that the council itself becomes somewhat redundant.

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