Appearing before the UN Human Rights Council today, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki lashed out at Israel, declared unwavering support for the UN’s plans for a “Durban II” anti-racism conference, and attacked the European Union’s stance on freedom of expression.
“I would like to request one minute silence and ask my Muslim brothers and sisters to read the Fatah (from the Koran) for those martyrs in Gaza,” said Mr. Mottaki. After 30 seconds of silence, the Foreign Minister accused Israel of “brutal occupation” and acting in a “horrendous and repressive” manner.
Mr. Mottaki pledged that Iran would play an “active and constructive role” in planning the 2009 follow-up conference to the original Durban conference against racism, a 2001 UN gathering that saw the largest display of anti-Semitism since the end of World War II.
The comments by Iran, which in 2001 hosted a round in Tehran that set the stage for Durban with virulent attacks on Israel and downplaying of the Holocaust, underscore fears that the 2009 conference will repeat the 2001 fiasco.
Foreign Minister Mottaki also called on the world to “prevent the infringement” of “Islamic rights,” specifically asking the European Union to take “appropriate measures” to prevent “any offense” to Islam.
Other highlights from today:
- Belgium noted its “concern” about the direction of the 2009 Durban II conference.
- Uzbekistan, Iran, Algeria, and Zimbabwe attacked The Netherlands for comments made by the Dutch Foreign Minister that were highly critical of those countries’ records on human rights.
- Albania accused Serbia of policies of “genocide and apartheid” in Kosovo.
- The Foreign Minister of Belarus praised the Council’s decision last year to abolish independent experts who investigated human rights abuses in his country, as well as in Cuba.
By a vote of 165 to 7, a UN General Assembly committee last Friday approved “institution-building” changes to the Human Rights Council that actually weaken or eliminate several of its key institutions. The package scraps the independent investigators of abuses in Cuba and Belarus, makes it harder to criticize specific countries for violations, and institutes the permanent censure of Israel as a fixed agenda item, an initiative pushed by the group of Islamic states.
The U.S., Canada, Australia, Israel and three Pacific Island states voted in opposition. The European Union countries supported the package, arguing it was the best possible compromise to preserve a functioning council.
The changes were first adopted on June 19, 2007 by the Human Rights Council in Geneva under dubious circumstances. As documented by a UN Watch photo timeline, “How the Human Rights Council Was Born” — an eye-opener into the dark side of international law and diplomacy — the package was rammed through in middle of the night, with Canada denied its right to vote. Continue reading ‘UN Ends Scrutiny of Cuba and Belarus, Indicts Israel’
No one’s talking about it, but soon — perhaps in early November — the UN General Assembly will be asked to approve the new configuration of the UN Human Rights Council. If you want to know how it was all conceived, see the compelling new timeline (with photos!) released today for the first time by UN Watch: How the Human Rights Council Was Born. It’s an eye-opener into the dark side of diplomacy that sometimes lurks behind international law and its institutions.
And now, a contest. If you can identify any point at which the council legally adopted the June 2007 draft institution-building package — purporting to establish the council’s rules of procedure, governing agenda, country and thematic investigatory mandates, and the much bally-hooed universal periodic review mechanism — I will buy you dinner at one of Geneva’s finest restaurants. (To try your luck, enter the contest by posting a comment below.) Continue reading ‘Timeline: How the UN Human Rights Council Was Born’