Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Reversing Bush policy, US seeks seat on UN Human Rights council + Comment

Diplomatic: President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived at the US ambassador's residence in London Wednesday to meet China's president, Hu Jintao. Ms. Clinton announced Tuesday that the US will join the UN Human Rights Council, some of whose members including China have shielded human rights violators such as Sudan.
Jason Reed/Reuters

Reversing Bush policy, US seeks seat on UN Human Rights council

The US will try to reform the council – some of whose members shield human rights violators – from within, officials said.

Reporter head shot

Reporter Howard LaFranchi discusses how the Obama administration is looking to change US policy on human rights.

President Obama is taking another step down the road of engaging America's adversaries with the decision to seek a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, a group President Bush had shunned..

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced in a statement Tuesday the reversal of Bush's policy of remaining outside the council as a way of protesting its makeup and work. "With others, we will engage in the work of improving the UN human rights system," Secretary Clinton said, with the goal of "advancing the vision of the UN declaration on Human Rights."

The administration's decision set off the latest installment of a debate in foreign-policy circles over whether the world's most egregious rights abusers are best confronted from within or outside the international human rights tent embodied by the council.

The 47-country council is tasked with defending international rights, but even some of its members concede the Geneva-based body spends too much time criticizing Israel and focusing on issues such as Islamophobia in Western countries. The council's predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, was branded as a club for dictators and scuttled in 2006. The current council is dominated by countries from Africa and Asia that have shielded human rights violators such as Sudan and Zimbabwe from scrutiny.

The Bush administration concluded that US membership would only grant legitimacy to the council, and stayed outside when it was created in 2006. The US initially accepted observer status but then decided even that was too much.

But on the same day that the Obama administration extended overtures to Iran, US officials at the UN explained the new "reform from within" stance on the council.

Joining the council is part of Obama's "new era of diplomatic engagement," said the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, adding that the aim was to make the council "a more effective body and to protect and promote human rights."

Preempting potential protests from conservatives who preferred the Bush administration's express condemnation of the council, Ambassador Rice added, "As a fully engaged member of the council, we'll be working from within rather than sitting on the sidelines – and thus can do more."

"Getting in now would put the US in the "best position to influence the 2011 council review," Rice added in a conference call with reporters.

The US will go up for election to the council in a mid-May vote, but will join Belgium and Norway in a three-candidate ticket for three seats and thus is virtually guaranteed a seat.

But some UN and human rights experts say remaining outside now with the 2011 review as a bargaining chip would have been the better way to pursue reform of the council.

"US membership and the prestige that comes with it should have been withheld until 2011," says Steven Groves, a specialist in international human rights institutions at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. The Obama administration could have used the fact that the world wants the US in the council as a means of pressing for meaningful changes, he adds, "but the US surrendered that ground without a fight."

Now, he says, the US will just be one of seven Western democracies up against 40 countries – mostly from Africa and Asia – that are suspicious of any institutional focus on countries from their regions.

"We're probably going to be replacing Canada with the US," Mr. Groves says, "so it's hard too see how this will be an improvement under the current structure."

Still, most international human rights groups received the US decision favorably. "Active involvement by the US will bring new energy and focus to the Human Rights Council's deliberations and actions, helping it become a more credible force for human rights promotion," says Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Mr. Roth acknowledged the council's failure to address "the wide range of serious human rights problems around the world" while keeping a "one-sided focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." But, he says, as a member the US could lead the council to "fulfill its potential."

Related Stories
Recast UN human rights group: any better? 10/03/2007

Related Link: Universal Declaration of Human Rights ~ December 10, 1948

Comment: To me, this is great news and shows a key difference between the former Bush Regime and the present Obama Administration. It highlights the central role of the humane rights movement on a global level and cosmic level. These central rights are given to us by merit of us all being Creatures of the Creator ~ creatures of the Creator have declared these rights to be sacred but they have always been and are as a key part of our birthright and our priceless inheritance as human beings in an often inhumane world such as we live in today.

Our common agenda in the political-social-economic spheres of life should be a basic, fundamental humane rights agenda. It is the common denominator for all of us who seek a new world of peace, prosperity and representative democracy for all peoples. It should be   

the common denominator whether we are Left-Wing or Right-Wing, Democratic or Republican, Black or White, Gay or straight or caught up in any kind of either-or cultural stance that excludes any significant group of people upon the planet Earth. It is the key central common denominator that can unite the now divided progressive movement inside the United States and throughout the world because it is based upon our common humane rights, including our basic survival rights of food, clothing, shelter, medical care and quality education! We mobilize the masses around their basic common needs, common dreams and common humane rights!

The immigrant rights movement is a part of the humane rights movement as are all positive progressive movements that fight for the rights of any particular group, people or social orientation. The violation of the humane rights of anyone is a violation upon all of us. If there is a devil be sure that the devil is a divider who gets a perverted thrill when he sees good hearted and well-intentioned people fight each other other surface superficial differences. Have the vision to see the clarity beyond the present chaos!

In relation to human beings there is only one race: the human race. A human being as such can simply mean a two-legged carnivorous animal. A HUMANE BEING is one who strives to have tender care, genuine concern and loving compassion for all of living beings, especially human beings who are creatures of the Creator. Racism against any one particular ethnic group or so-called race is a mental-spiritual disorder.

Let us not be divided by flags, borders, religions or confused philosophies. There is only one Mother Earth and she is in deep trouble on a global level. Human beings are NOW truly an endangered species. No one can guarantee the promise of tomorrow as it never arrives. All we have to work with and work in is the HERE NOW of CONNECTED REALITY. The rest is either a longing for a never-to-return past that does not exist or a longed for future that is always ahead of in the timeline of life. All we have is HERE NOW and on the cosmic level we should strive to see that we are ALL ONE. We are all involved in 'this thing of ours' called life and we can only survive and succeed as a unique species of life if we come together in genuine unity based upon a COMMON HUMANE RIGHTS AGENDA!

Education for Liberation! Join Up!
Peter S. Lopez aka: Peta

No comments: