September 13, 2005 | News Releases on Legal Issues
WASHINGTON, SEPT. 14, 2005 - When it comes to
human rights and the United Nations, it's not enough to tinker at
the edges, as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed.
Rather, says a new paper from The Heritage Foundation, it's time to
"completely rethink our commitment to human rights in the context
of the United Nations."
For too long, notes Joseph Loconte, a Heritage expert on religion and free societies who served on the 2005 Congressional Task Force on the United Nations, non-democratic nations with long histories of human-rights abuses have sat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission. As long as that situation is allowed to stand, "it will be difficult, if not impossible, to effectively advance the cause of human rights in the United Nations," Loconte says.
The Heritage report notes that countries such as Libya, a well-documented violator of human rights, recently chaired the U.N. Human Rights Commission. And countries such as Sudan-scene of open, government-sanctioned genocide in recent years-manage to remove themselves from the U.N.'s list of countries that require special monitoring, even as the massacres continue.
Secretary-General Annan has recognized that such practices damage the international organization's stature, telling delegates to the commission that their work had become dangerously compromised. "We have reached a point at which the Commission's declining credibility has cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole, and where piecemeal reforms will not be enough," he said.
Loconte recommends taking Annan at his word and calls for abolishing the U.N. Commission on Human Rights outright. The Heritage analyst also recommends:
"If we want to extend and defend the cause of human rights in the world, the effort has to involve the countries as committed and animated by these ideals as we are," Loconte says. "It begins with us."