COLUMN: Robson – UN, Syria and a sick joke

- July 8th, 2012

Wretched UN up to its old tricks with Syria

Allowing regime to sit on Human Rights Council simply business as usual

by John Robson

Oh great. Syria seems to be headed for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Could the UN be more in your face?

Those who unaccountably maintain faith in the UN thought replacing the old, discredited UN Human Rights Commission — call it UNHRC(1) — with a new UN Human Rights Council or UNHRC(2) in 2006 would somehow recall the UN to its true self. Well, be careful what you wish for because it just did.

UNHRC-1, you may recall, capped its infamous career by electing Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya to its chairmanship in 2003 to offend George Bush. But the new improved UNHRC-2 welcomes places like Saudi Arabia, the People’s Republic of China, Russia and, gosh look here, Libya again (elected in 2010 while Gadhafi was still tormenting his people).

Technically this sort of thing happens because UNHRC-2’s 47 members, serving staggered three-year terms, are allocated to various regions of the world by quota (Africa 13, Asia 13, Eastern Europe 6, Latin America and the Caribbean 8, and 7 for Western European and Others, or WEOG, which includes basically every place you’d ever want to live). And to avoid picking holes in one another’s ragged coats on human rights, regional groups generally just nominate as many nations as they get seats so members aren’t elected but acclaimed.

Now it might be tempting to call this ruthless pragmatism and ask if these people have no morals. But these are their morals. Remember the classic scene from the 1985 comedy mystery film Clue where Miss Scarlet hisses, “I hardly think it will enhance your reputation at the UN Professor Plum, if it’s revealed that you have been implicated not only in adultery with one of your patients, but in her death and the deaths of five other people” and Plum replies, “You don’t know what kind of people they have at the UN,

I might go up in their estimation.”

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called the prospect of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad having a seat on the UNHRC(2) a “sick joke,” claimed “it would do irreparable damage to the United Nations and likely would be the biggest blow that the United Nations has taken since its formation,” and added “what Assad needs to be facing is the International Criminal Court to face charges for committing crimes against humanities, he and his henchmen.”

I applaud his indignation. But his analysis is flawed when his rhetoric even allows analysis. The “biggest blow?” To a body that welcomed Sudan to UNHRC(1) the same year it made Libya chair despite or, cynics might say, because of the ongoing Darfur genocide? What about pounding relentlessly on Israel, being pro-Soviet throughout the Cold War, spending lavishly or chronically combining arm-flapping impotence with windy pomposity?

As for inflicting “irreparable damage” on this wretched organization, I’ve been wondering how to do that for years. But this wouldn’t work. Putting Assad on UNHRC(2) would just be business as usual, the UN carrying on as it always has.

Baird also commits a serious blunder in calling for an international trial for Assad. Such calls perpetuate the idea that there’s some sort of world government somewhere with popular legitimacy, an effective police force and impartial courts, committed to liberty under law. There isn’t. But there are good reasons the U.S., like Israel, refuses to accept ICC jurisdiction. First, Americans can uphold their own rule of law, thanks, and second, the “international community” couldn’t even

if it wanted to, which it doesn’t.

Finally, Baird calls the whole business a “sick joke.” He doesn’t know what kind of people they have at the UN. When they shove Syria for UNHRC(2) in our faces on purpose, they’re showing us who they are and who they think we are. It’s no joke.

Categories: Contributor Columns

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7 comments

  1. Bill Elder says:

    This UN appointmnt must be a reward for the “Syrian HRC” doing such a great job of protecting the human rights of Christians, Jews and Blacks targeted in the ongoing Syrian genocide.

    Not a sick joke, just plain sick.

    Let’s leave this madhouse to the madmen.

  2. Brett Mann says:

    I suggest opponents of the UN offer some alternative method for co-ordinating the nations of the earth to deal with global issues, or shut up. This anti-UN stance is a reflection of American right wing exceptionalism. Syria , and other tyrannies will continue to exist and need to be dealt with with or without the UN. And so will latent fascist nations, such as the USA, the biggest prison state on the planet. No criticism of that from the right though.

  3. Brian Lilley says:

    Brett, why do we need a body “co-ordinating the nations of the earth to deal with global issues” as you say?
    And even if I were to accept that there needs to be some level of co-ordination why could this not be done with the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, OECD, OAS, NATO, G20, G7 or any of the other organizations Canada belongs to.
    The fact is, your statements show that you believe in global government. I believe in national sovereignty.
    If you think complaints about Syria, Iran, North Korea and other thug nations are about American exceptionalism then you are refusing to see the problems inherent in the UN structure.

  4. Papa says:

    >> offer some alternative for coordinating the nations of the earth

    You are pre-supposing that this is either desirable or necessary. False on both counts but, then, that is to be expected from a leftist extremist who simply isn’t capable of comprehending the world functioning without a world government. This is your limitation, not ours.

    The anti-UN stance comes from it having shown itself to be a rotting, festering pit of deceit and anti-human malice for decades. But, once again, we have another out-of-touch marxist attempting to defend this abomination. That alone speaks volumes. Add to that your pathetic attempt to use your own defence of the snake pit as a cudgel to bash the US with and we have just another example of the tired old extreme left nonsense that is slowly being rejected by all of society as people see it for what it really is: a despicable extreme left fairy tale used to beat down good people while propping up those willing to do what you leftist extremists believe is “necessary”.

    Sick doesn’t even begin to cover it!

  5. Constantin says:

    Sorry about that mistake. What is fascinating is this liberal rush to deal with “global issues” by way of global regulation imposed by an unelected body with a large majority of which failing to adhere to basic human rights, failing to respect agreements, unstable, and anti-American.
    Wouldn’t it be much wiser to watch in silence the disintegration of Europe (which is, at the very least, made of countries with a relatively alligned world-view and cultural heritage) before we try to replicate that experiment with Syria and Iran and their likes on the world stage?
    I see however a significant danger, namely that relatively conservative democratic regimes may allow at the U.N. what they would find unacceptable at home. I am waiting to see what our government will do with the small arms treaty.
    On the other hand, giving the UN some competition with a sensibly organized Commonwealth of nations could be an idea…

  6. Alain says:

    If Canada insists on remaining a member of this corrupt and shameful organisation, then we need to demand that Canada not sign any treaty or agreement without it having been voted on in Parliament. I would actually prefer a national referendum on whether or not we should sign on, but as that is unlikely to happen, at the very least our elected representatives who must answer to the Canadian voters should decide, not a few unelected bureaucrats.

  7. Greg says:

    I believe that the UN is necessary because we here in the West cannot change the minds of every person on Earth. There are going to be people we disagree with all the time. We need to find compromises and learn to live with the differences in the societies that are different. Part of being an adult means being mature and accepting people for who they are. Only immature people want war, fighting, insults, harsh language and tough talk.

    That sort of thing did not help during the Bush years. I believe the direction we should go towards is to have a balanced foreign policy, diplomacy, and trying to avoid war before it even happens. That is the direction I believe Canada should follow.

    If we leave the UN, we are basically saying that we want a society or an international body that just conforms to our values. Then what may happen could be more pre-emptive war, more sanctions which could lead to war and finally a more destabilized world. Also, how would China and Russia react? I mean we need to take everything we do into consideration before rushing into things. I know tough talk and insults and sounding tough may be good at a given moment but it does not help in the end. It just is not good policy.

    That is why the UN must be kept. It must be kept so that there is give and take.

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