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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Editorial: Idiocy, United Nations-style

February 16, 2009

The Ottawa Citizen

Friday, February 13, 2009

A new peer-review process was supposed to make the UN Human Rights
Council more objective and effective. Instead, it has turned the body
into even more of a farce than it already was.

The monitoring group UN Watch calls it a "mutual praise society," and
it's not hard to see why. In a recent review of China's human rights
record, Iran lauded the regime in Beijing for its "strong commitment to
human rights."

No observer knows how many people the state kills every year in China,
but Amnesty International suspects the number runs into the thousands
and calls China "the world's biggest executioner."

For that, China's government won the praise of Egypt's government, which
also uses capital punishment.

The peer review process did give Canada a chance to speak its mind about
the Chinese state's abuses, including the broad use of the death penalty
and the arbitrary detention of Tibetans. But any good that might have
done was negated by the propaganda value of the praise China got from
its fellow rights-abusers.

The notion that all states are equal is embedded in the culture of the
United Nations. It's a noble idea. But what UN organizations so often
fail to recognize is that all governments are not equally right. Human
beings are all equal under the law, but often, human beings are wrong.
The same is true of governments.

The equal weighting of opinions has the dangerous effect of making truth
appear to be relative. If Iran and Egypt say one thing, and Canada and
Australia say another, who's to say who's right?

All states, including Canada, could improve their human-rights records.
But there is no equivalence between Canada's attitude and actions and
China's. That truth should be apparent, even at the UN.


© The Vancouver Sun 2009

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