The Moral Incompetence of the UN, of its "human rights council," and of the UNHRC's Goldstone Commission
UPDATINGS 9-16 & 9-21-2009 & 10-21-2009 & 11-27-2009 links added at bottom
The Goldstone Commission report is now delivered. But vital issues concerning its background remain. Before having time to deal with analysis of the report, which is now going on, here are considerations about the moral competence of the UN itself in general, of the UN "human rights council" in particular, and of some members of the commission. This statement was prepared earlier and is still valid of course.
Can the world expect a reasonable, factual judgment about human rights violations during January’s Gaza War, “Cast Lead,” to emerge from the upcoming report of the Goldstone Commission? Indeed, we can expect the opposite.
First of all, we may say in general that the UN is a body made up of states, each of which has its own interests –which may in themselves be right or wrong, just or unjust. Yet, secondly, the Goldstone Commission was appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council, one of the more disreputable, more Orwellian, of UN bodies.
Thirdly, the mandate that this “Human Rights Council” gave to Goldstone refers only to crimes supposedly committed by Israel, not to crimes committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians and its own people through the use of “human shields” explicitly forbidden by the international laws of war. This makes the Goldstone Commission rather obviously one-sided. The Commission did come to Israel to take testimony but would not go to Sderot to hear witnesses there. Yet Sderot had been a target of rockets shot from Gaza for eight years at the time of the war. Hence, Goldstone’s Commission could not see with their own eyes the results of Hamas rocket bombardments there nor learn from victims there of how they and their children had suffered from Hamas rockets.
Fourthly, a member of Goldstone’s Commission is one Christine Chinkin who has already very blatantly expressed her hostility to Israel.
How can a balanced, reasonable, factually based report come out of this background?
Now, we can elaborate on points made above. The UN is a collection of states, each taking part in UN debates, votes, and other activities with a view toward protecting or advancing its own interests, be they reasonable or unreasonable, just or unjust, or perhaps just in the view of that state’s government and/or its people. In this group of states, the 20-odd Arab League states have special power, since they tend to vote as a bloc on many issues, especially in regard to Israel. The Arabs are reinforced by more than thirty non-Arab Muslim states that sit with the Arabs in the OIC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The OIC with its nearly sixty members is in an especially favorable position in the UN because of what Americans call “logrolling.” That is, in a voting assembly, a large bloc of votes or delegates can get its way without being a majority. That is because other delegates want the support of the bloc for their own interests. Hence, a state that is neither Arab nor Muslim will be tempted to support the Arab League or OIC position in UN voting in order to obtain support for its own positions, needs, interests, etc. One glimpse of the OIC’s character came at a meeting in Malaysia several years ago. This OIC conclave was the venue for an ugly, bigoted attack on Jews by Mahathir Muhammad, then prime minister of Malaysia. He charged that Jews controlled the world and its economy, although a half-dozen states belonging to the OIC, such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi are among the states with the highest per capita income in the world, exceeding many Western countries.
Now, Malaysia brings us to another problem of the UN “Human Rights” Council. The legislation in Malaysia makes almost half the population there suffer from inferior rights and unjust restrictions. I am not referring to the women, although their status is legally inferior. I am referring to the non-Muslims in Malaysia, most of them of Chinese and Indian descent. They are not Europeans. They suffer from the “Bhumiputra system.” This is a whole system of limited freedoms, inferior rights, and legal restrictions imposed on non-Muslims. It is a system inspired by traditional Muslim law. Yet the Malaysian denial of human rights on religious and ethnic grounds is not the subject of regular debate and condemnation at the UN “Human Rights” Council. Indeed, in 2006, Malaysia was selected for a three-year term as a member of the Council!! [see link: http://forum-asia.org/hrc/?p=
In the same vein, Libya, an oil rich Arab despotism, was elected to be chairman of the predecessor body of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Human Rights Commission, in January 2003. At that time, Libya was holding as prisoners five Bulgarian nurses working in Libya plus one Palestinian Arab physician on the spurious charges of deliberately infecting Libyan children with AIDS. The nurses were sentenced to death by firing squad [link: http://www.aegis.com/news/re/
The Human Rights Council [formerly HR Commission] was and is Orwellian because it is a body made up –even led in Libya’s case— by states that regularly abuse human rights yet hide behind the motto, the cover of human rights. That is, a lofty principle hides a reality that violates the lofty principle. As far as many Muslim state members are concerned, they do not recognize or acknowledge human rights even in principle, since they adhere to traditional Muslim law, the Shari`ah, that grants rights solely to Muslims whereas non-Muslims are dependent on the whims of the Muslims. Moreover, the Muslim states affirmed their opposition to the principle of human rights, which must be universal by definition [that is, applied to all humans], by their support of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam  that was meant as a rejection of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights . Having states that reject the very concept of human rights being dominant --or even only influential-- in a world council ostensibly devoted to human rights is one of the many Orwellian absurdities that mark the UN but are seldom noted by diplomats, politicians, and the communications media.
The mandate of Goldstone’s Commission is found here. On January 12, 2009, United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) adopted Resolution S-9/1. The Council:
14. Decides to dispatch an urgent, independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Council, to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission
1) Israel is called "the occupying power" in Gaza, although Israeli troops had not been stationed in Gaza since 2005; this is willful misinterpretation of "occupation."
2) the "Palestinian people" is a victim, not the people of Israel. This is a form of racism.
3) Israel's defensive war is stigmatized as "the current aggression."
This is the Goldstone Commission's mandate. It does not recognize the possibility that Hamas may have committed war crimes before and during the January war in Gaza.
Lastly, we have the bias of members of the Commission. Christine Chinkin, one member in good standing, has openly and blatantly expressed her hatred for Israel. She said in a public statement with others of her ilk:
"Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime."
As the blogger Ami Isseroff has commented, "She has already decided the matter, it would seem that from her point of view there is no need to have any investigation. In a fair judicial procedure, a judge like Chinkin would have to recuse herself, but the nature of this "judicial procedure" should already be evident."
We cannot expect any reasonable, fair, honest judgment to emerge from the forthcoming Goldstone Commission report.
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Goldstone has now --15 September 2009-- delivered his report to that paragon of righteousness, the UN. He and his commission performed as badly as expected.- - - - - - - - - -
Pres Shimon Peres on Goldstone report [here]
Lorenzo Cremonesi's report in Corriere della Sera about Hamas use of human shields during the Gaza war [in English here][in italiano qui], January 21, 2009.
Title in Italian:
"'Cosi i ragazzini di Hamas ci hanno utilizzato come bersagli' Abitanti di Gaza accusano i militanti islamici: 'Ci impedivano di lasciare le case e da li sparavano'"
"'Thus the Hamas boys used us as targets'. Inhabitants of Gaza accuse the Islamic militants: 'They prevented us from leaving the houses and shot from them.'"
Alan Dershowitz [here]
Ari Shavit in HaArets on double standard for killing civilians [here].
Israel's foreign minister on Goldstone report [here]
Jackson Diehl of the WaPo: "As for the Goldstone report, the heat it briefly produced last week will quickly dissipate; the panel was discredited from the outset because of its appointment by the grotesquely politicized U.N. Human Rights Council." [see here]Gregg Rickman on UN "Human Rights" Council [here; hat tip SPME]
Edwin Bennatan on goldstone, UNHRC, HRW, and related matters [here]
UPDATING 11-27-2009 Hugh Fitzgerald on UN corruption generally, & pro-Arab, Judeophobic corruption in particular [here]