On Orwell and the U.N.

War is Peace

UN Watch testimony delivered by Hillel Neuer before
the U.N. Human Rights Council, July 3, 2012.

Thank you, Mr. President.

This year we mark the 64th anniversary of two monumental texts.

The first is the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Three years after World War II, the founders of this council created the Universal Declaration, in response, as stated in the preamble, to atrocities that shocked the conscience of mankind. They reaffirmed that every human being has the right to life, the right to be free from torture, persecution and discrimination.

The United Nations must live up to that declaration.

Regrettably, too often in this body we are reminded of another great document from that same year: George Orwell’s classic on totalitarianism, 1984.

The novel portrays a dystopian universe where truth is turned on its head. War is Peace was the slogan.

We were reminded of Orwell most famously when the government of Libyan Col. Muammar Qaddafi was elected chair of the U.N. Human Rights Commission; and then again, only two years ago, when, despite our appeals together with the appeals of Libyan victims, Qaddafi’s regime was elected a member of this council.

We were reminded of Orwell yesterday, in this session. In the book 1984, everyone was forced to undergo a daily Two Minute of Hate.

Yesterday, contrary to the principles of universality and equality, and contrary to the plea of the Secretary-General, one nation was once again singled out for an entire day of vitriol.

And we are reminded of Orwell this week, in the proposal that is before us for a declaration on “the right to peace.” The draft report would recognize a “right to resist and oppose oppressive colonial, foreign occupation.”

That is the language used by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Mr. President,

The notion that War is Peace was an Orwellian slogan. It should not be the law of this council, or of the United Nations. Human rights should not be turned on its head.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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