by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
If that sounds crazy to you, you’re not alone. Here’s what Terry Glavin said about it in a recent article in McClean’s:
Headquartered in the pleasant surroundings of the Palais des Nations overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the UN Human Rights Council, which replaced the thoroughly discredited UN Commission on Human Rights 14 years ago, has become as comfortable and welcoming as its predecessor was for many of the worst human rights abusers on the face of the earth.
The 43rd session of the UNHRC is underway here this week. Among the council’s many dodgy members for 2020, for instance, are Pakistan, Libya, Qatar, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan and Venezuela.
The Pakistani penal code provides for the death penalty to punish “blasphemers,” and Pakistan permits forced conversions. Only two months ago, a panel of the UNHRC’s own rapporteurs condemned Pakistan’s courts for a Dec. 21 death sentence handed down in the case of Bahauddin Zakariya University lecturer Junaid Hafeez, who has been in solitary confinement ever since he was charged with blasphemy in 2013. Only two weeks ago a Pakistani high court ruling validated the abduction and forced marriage of a 14-year-old Christian girl on the grounds that she’d already had her first period and was fair game.
Libya is a failed state, riven by proxy warfare. Abandoned by NATO after an Arab Spring rebellion overthrew dictator Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord, now backed by Turkish troops, is embroiled in a bloody contest with the Russian-backed warlord Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, formerly an officer in Gaddafi’s army. Qatar is globally notorious for its overwhelming reliance on brutally oppressed guest workers. Freedom of expression is practically non-existent, and along with Somalia and Sudan, Qatar enforces the death penalty for LGBTQ people.
And then there’s Venezuela. Last year, in just one of the conclusions of an investigation carried out by the UN’s own High Commissioner for Human Rights, the regime of Nicolas Maduro was found to have engaged in orchestrated political assassinations that contributed to nearly 7,000 deaths between January 2018 and May 2019 that the government in Caracas dismisses as “resistance to authority.”
The UNHRC is currently engaged in a fact-finding mission to inquire further into extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture in the Bolivarian regime there, which has disgorged a fifth of the Venezuela’s population as refugees, so far. Earlier this week, the UN World Food Program released a report showing that a third of the remaining Venezuelans—9.3 million people—don’t have enough food to meet their minimum nutritional requirements.
And yet Venezuela was elected by the UN General Assembly to serve on the UNHRC this year. …
Even the most outrageous human rights abuses get overlooked, and sometimes, the world’s worst human rights abusers receive praise here. Last year, China won accolades from more than 50 countries, many of them Muslim-majority states, for its “counterterrorism” initiative in Xinjiang, where more than a million Muslims have been interned without trial in re-education camps.
As for the democracies, they’re intimidated. “The Human Rights Council only really has the power of shame, but the democracies have stopped issuing resolutions,” Neuer told me. “They’ve been made timid by Russia, by China, and by Turkey, and they don’t want to be embarrassed if they put forward a resolution and it fails. It’s a nice life here. The ambassadors go skiing on the weekends. But they’re afraid.”