Uncertainty over the Human Rights Council increases

Campaign News | Thursday, 2 March 2006

Cuba criticises US for threatening new world body

UNITED NATIONS, March 2: The creation of a new UN Human Rights Council to replace the UN Human Rights Commission is in doubt following a threat from the US not to vote for it, a move that has severely angered Cuba and has led to a confrontation between the two countries.

Prensa Latina reported on March 2, that there was still no clear indication of a consensus before March 13, the date by which it should be approved.

Jan Eliasson, the Swiss ambassador and president of the General Assembly, has insisted that the beginning of the labors of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva on March 13 is crucial for deciding on the creation of the Council.

But to date the United States is delaying any move on a decision due to its reluctance to accept the latest draft of this UN mechanism, presented last week by Ambassador Eliasson.

John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador, stated on Monday that that draft is unacceptable to Washington because it does not include its conditioned criteria for entry onto the Council nor its election method of a two-thirds majority.

According to diplomatic sources here, Bolton has successfully pressured the European powers to gain a few months’ delay for the approval of the Council.

In a short statement approved last night, the 25 members of the EU gave their full support to the efforts of the president of the General Assembly to ensure the greatest possible backing for the swift establishing of the Human Rights Council.

However, that bloc did not indicate whether it would have recourse to any action leading to the approval of the document presented by Eliasson in order to leave the way open for the Council’s creation.

Emyr Jones Parry, British ambassador to the UN, stated that adopting the text without the backing of the United States would not be good for human rights or, particularly, for the Council.

Meanwhile, Kofi Annan, UN secretary general, admitted his disquiet at the U.S. position of rejecting the draft resolution that would facilitate the creation of the controversial Human Rights Council.

In a brief meeting with the press at this headquarters he stated that he was displeased at the position taken by the United States and did not know how the issue would develop or be resolved.

Below is Cuban foreign ministry statement on the matter released on February 28.


Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba

WE are bearing witness to a new blow to multilateralism and to the United Nations. The United States is threatening to call for a vote and to vote against the draft resolution presented on February 23 by the President of the UN General Assembly, with the aim of establishing the form of the Human Rights Council, a body that is to replace the current Human Rights Commission. As it is known, the said Commission ended up completely discredited due to the political manipulation imposed on its labors by the Bush administration and its allies and accomplices in the European Union.

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations - imposed by the White House hawks against the will of the U.S. Congress - announced yesterday Monday, February 27, that he had received instructions to reopen negotiations in regard to the draft, adding that if there were attempts to adopt a decision on it in its current content, he would call for a vote and vote against it.

What is paradoxical in all of this is that the draft resolution, officially circulated today February 28, was meticulously conceived and negotiated behind the scenes with Washington’s representatives precisely to accommodate the superpower’s central demands, knowing that these would not have the majority support of the members of the United Nations.

In the months that have gone by during the current process, the United States and its allies have exerted strong pressures on many Third World governments aimed at breaking their resistance to this new confabulation. The Cuba Mission to the United Nations exposed the danger of the consummation of this maneuver in a press release distributed last February 20.

The only "argument" of the Bush Administration is threat. Its thesis cannot withstand debate. What kind of a Human Rights Council is the United States trying to impose?

? One in which its members would be subjected to requirements and conditions of such a nature that joining it would be impossible for the countries placed on the front line of resistance against the aggressive and hegemonic actions of the empire at global level. The United States is trying to have it believed that the discredit of the HRC is the consequence of the presence on the Commission of countries like Cuba, when it is well known that, on the contrary, it was the politically motivated maneuvers promoted by Washington and the European Union, such as the unjust anti-Cuban exercise, which put paid to the Commission’s credibility. Let us recall that, additionally, the United States was not elected to the Human Rights Commission in 2001, voted out by the majority of the world for its impositions and manipulations.

? One which would suffer a reduction of the current 53 countries represented in the Human Rights Commission. They are talking about a "more manageable" body, that is, a smaller one that will allow them to concentrate their pressure on fewer members, to increase its impact and make it more effective. In other words, they want a Council which they can "manage" better, without the presence of those who, like Cuba, call things by their name and defend, above all, the principles and dignity of the peoples.

? One in which the requirement of the support of two-thirds of the members of the General Assembly would be imposed on candidate countries. In this way, they are trying to guarantee for themselves - with the conspiratorial support of a clear minority of their close allies and those who are subordinated to their dictates - the power to veto candidates who would obstruct the control that they intend to gain on the labors of this body. The imposition of this requirement, which is only applied to election to the principal UN agencies, which is not the case of the Human Rights Council, would allow a minority of 64 states to block the candidature of any aspirant.

? One with ample punitive powers and sanctioning capacity against the countries of the South, as opposed to international cooperation on human rights issues, a function that the UN Charter assigns to the institutions concerned with this issue. In the new council both the United States and the European Union will go ahead with their traditional exercises of political manipulation against the developing countries. No wonder they refuse to even consider the establishment of clear criteria equally binding on all at the point of presenting resolutions on countries.

? One in which members assuming a dissident position in the face of the empire’s ploys and impositions would be subjected to the permanent risk of having their rights suspended due to the pride, rancor and arrogance of the superpower.

? One that would have close ties to the Security Council, an anti-democratic body on which the United States imposes its conditions as the only superpower.

? One that would not have an express mandate to undertake in a prioritized manner the realization of the right to development, a key demand of the great majority of humankind. One that cannot adopt effective decisions against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related forms of intolerance. One that focus its work on civil and political rights as understood by Washington and which serves, among other things, to legitimate torture, which the theoreticians and hawks of Washington have devoted so much time to justifying.

Is it maybe that the draft resolution might be contrary to Washington’s interests?

On the contrary. The resolution endorses the reduction of the number of members of the main body of human rights of the United Nations, from 53 to 47 members; increases the minimum required votes to elect a candidate to 96; maintains the possibility to impose resolutions against countries of the South, without respecting any criteria. It also enables the suspension of the members of the Council with the support of two thirds of the members present and voting in an official meeting of the General Assembly, without establishing a minimum required limit; it opens the possibility for countries of the South in the future, to face the permanent danger of being condemned through a resolution, and also to be deprived from their rights in the Council. It makes it possible for the Council to respond in an expeditious way to so-called human rights emergencies which, according to the self appointed masters of the world, only take place in the South. However, these provisions will not apply to the serious, mass and sustained violations of human rights at the detention center on the Guantánamo base, the brutal torture at Abu Ghraib or the transfer of detainees on secret CIA flights through the civilized and democratic Europe to be tortured; and it makes possible extraordinary meetings of the Council based on the minority will of one third of its members.

Is there any way of describing the draft resolution submitted by the President of the General Assembly as a text benefiting the interests of the developing countries to the detriment of the interests of Washington? Absolutely not. Of the draft’s 28 paragraphs, not one is directed at promoting concrete actions to overcome the obstacles created by the current international order to the realization of the objective of human rights for all, as established in Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Not one paragraph is completely devoted to the promotion of the right to development. The right to solidarity is not even mentioned. The right of peoples to peace did not receive the universal recognition that it merits in the draft resolution.

The main problem is not that the draft resolution is contrary, incompatible or that it simply does not guarantee the interests of stability, credibility and legitimacy required by the plan of global domination designed by the imperialist circles holding power in the United States. The real motivation for the final onslaught of the current U.S. administration in negotiations over the Human Rights Council is to show its will and capability to impose - even through the use of blatant threats - its conditions on the ongoing reform and reshaping of the international system represented by the United Nations. The neo-conservatives of the Bush administration have already initiated, at top speed, the process of implementing its plans for global domination expressed in the so called Project for the New American Century.

Once again, Washington does not care about putting its allies and accomplices in the European Union in the ridiculous position of subordination to and imitative alignment with the superpower. After the latter publicly stated that they would lend themselves to a forced adoption of the draft resolution designed to accommodate Washington’s unpopular demands and their own interests, as spurious as those of their harsh tutor, as soon as Bolton’s threatening statements came to the fore, they have rushed to affirm that if Washington insists on its position, the creation of the Council should be postponed.

Thus, various European Union authorities have already stated that "it is not desirable to create a Council without the support of all the world’s democracies; therefore we have to try and draw the United States into our camp."

The empire’s European allies must already be hard at work try to obtain new concessions from the rest of the world to quench the Bush administration’s thirst for domination and plunder.

At the end of the day, their political and ideological interests are the same as those of Washington, which has thus given them to understand that their goals in Geneva cannot be met without the support of the United States.

By manipulating the universal interest in strengthening multilateralism, Washington, its allies and other governments vulnerable to pressure from the United States, are trying to continue imposing their conditions by compelling the rest of the nations to abandon their indispensable defense of the central principles of the international system.

Multilateralism can only work on the basis of respect for the equal sovereignty of states. A United Nations Organization that would allow the superpower to act as it likes in the implementation of its hegemonic appetite and selfish interests would not be feasible.

In a constructive spirit and with total transparency Cuba has been actively participating in the debates on the reform of the Human Rights Commission. It has submitted numerous proposals at the successive stages of the process, most of them based on language previously agreed upon in the World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in 1993, or in successive resolutions of the Human Rights Commission and the General Assembly.

Cuba will continue working in order to have those aspects that were unjustly disregarded against the will of the majority of the states of the South duly included in the draft resolution, on which the General Assembly should make a statement. Those omissions are a serious attempt against the possibility of ensuring the creation of a Human Rights Council whose work is based on genuine dialogue.

Cuba has worked hard to prevent the problems that put paid to the credibility of the HRC from being transferred to the new body. Our country will not be an accomplice to the silent consummation of a new conspiracy in the making between Washington and its principal Western allies against the interests of the peoples of the South.

Cuba will maintain its firm denunciation of this new attack on the international system and the interests of the countries of the South, and will act, according to the circumstances, in defense of justice, international law and that so much needed international cooperation in favor of promoting and protecting all human rights for all nations and peoples.

Havana, February 28, 2006.


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