The United Nations seriously needs to re-examine the role and usefulness of its Human Rights Council.
What exactly is the use of running such a huge intergovernmental body if most of its member states are engaged in mass human rights abuses?
Case in point: North Korea, a state notorious for mass murders, enslavement, torture, imprisonment and rape, is not only a part of the council but also declared recently that it will boycott any UNHRC session that examines its record.
“We shall no longer participate in international sessions singling out the human rights situation of the DPRK [North Korea] for mere political attack,” said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong, adding any resolutions adopted against Pyongyang “will be none of our business and we will never, ever be bound by them.”
It’s an exceptionally odd demand, considering how Ri is essentially asking an international human rights body to ignore human rights violations.
But North Korea is just one example. Last year, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia, yet another country with an awful human rights record, was elected as chair of a panel of independent experts on the UNHCR.
The position was announced at a time when the oil-rich country was carrying out mass executions of government critics without proper trials.
Other ironic UNHRC members include the following:
On Int'l Democracy Day, we salute @UN_HRC members:— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) September 16, 2015
Even the examples not included in the list above, e.g. the United States, are a joke.
The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. An estimated 112,017–122,438 civilian deaths were recorded by Iraq Body Count between March 2003 and March 2013 during the Iraq War. Although the conflict came to an end in December 2011, the number of deaths is constantly increasing due to the ongoing insurgency the invasion wrought.
Out of the many gruesome scandals of the Iraq War involving the U.S. government, the Abu Ghraib prison torture stands out.
What’s worse, the grave mistake was never acknowledged by the governments of the Western countries involved. No one was held accountable.
With such countries enrolled as member states, one wonders what purpose, exactly, the UNHRC is serving.