Today ICLA is attending an important human rights meeting in Geneva. Our delegation at the Geneva Summit For Human Rights And Democracy is being led by ICLA Chairman Alain Wagner. The summit is being held ahead of the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The website of the summit describes the event as follows:
“The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy is the largest gathering of dissidents and former political prisoners at the seat of the UN Human Rights Council.”
ICLA looks forward to meeting with and developing working relations with a large number of individuals and groups from around the world to ensure that human rights are defended from those who want to bring them down. That of course includes the UN Human Rights Council itself which has been engaged in anti-human rights activities for some time.
The UNHRC’s record turns the following statement made by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on 12 March 2007 into perverse nonsense. On that day he said:
“All victims of human rights abuses should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard for action.” (1)
Let’s take a look at some of the countries who are members of the UN Human Rights Council (2).
Mauritania – Wikipedia describes human rights in Mauritania in the following terms:
With a July 2012 estimated population of 3.4 million Mauritania is a highly centralized Islamic republic with no freedom of religion”
Anti-Slavery International suggests that there may be as many as 600,000 people currently living in slavery in Mauritania despite it being made illegal in 1981. (3) CNN in THIS harrowing story about slavery in Mauritania states that it didn’t become a criminal offence to own slaves until 2007 and that since then there had only been one successful prosecution. (4) Why is a country that hasn’t managed to end slavery in practice a member of the UNHRC? How dare such a country sit in judgement of other countries with regard to human rights issues? Is it some sort of joke!
Pakistan – The constitution of Pakistan makes provision for human rights (5) but does not seem very good at delivering them in practice. Pakistan is well known a country that persecutes religious minorities via its draconian blasphemy laws (6). Religious freedom in Pakistan is something that is therefore severely limited.
Maldives – Religious freedoms are severely restricted in the Maldives. According to Wikipedia:
The Government interprets this provision to impose a requirement that all citizens must be Muslims. Freedom of religion is restricted significantly. The law prohibits the practice by Maldivian citizens of any religion other than Islam, and the Constitution precludes non-Muslims from voting, obtaining citizenship, and holding public positions.” (7)
These are very odd characteristics for a member of the UNHRC, on organisation that supposedly stands up for human rights.
States such as the 3 examples mentioned above have no business making decisions about human rights. They should be assuming the position of pupils willing to sit quietly and learn rather than countries making actual decisions on matters that they clearly do not understand or even perhaps want to understand. They are certainly not making successful efforts to implement basic standards of human rights.
Via their membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (8) they these countries choose to lecture the world about human rights standards that they themselves seem extremely unwilling to live up to. They like to pretend that human rights problems exist in the wider world rather than within their own borders. The OIC is currently making massive efforts to restrict free speech across the globe in the name of religious tolerance. The example of Pakistan illustrates that the OIC perhaps does not understand what religious tolerance actually means. Religious tolerance is not something that is delivered in accordance to sharia but is something that is created despite sharia.
The OIC as an organisation is the equivalent of a child with much to learn when it comes to human rights. It has tantrums on the world stage about freedom of religion but many of its member states do not practice freedom of religion themselves. How dare it lecture the rest of the world!
Is it any wonder that the UNHRC is not fit for purpose and is making resolutions such as Resolution 16/18 that aim to impose Pakistani type blasphemy laws on the whole world and pretend to be about religious freedom.
It is quite clear that Geneva Summit For Human Rights And Democracy is a highly necessary event because unlike the UNHRC it is actually about championing human rights. It is NGO’s and activists working tirelessly on the ground and not governments and the United Nations that protect human rights. Governments and the United Nations are actually the organisations who seek to seen them as obstacles to their power.
- As Human Rights Council opens session, Ban Ki-moon says ‘world is watching’
- Current Membership of the Human Rights Council, 1 January – 31 December 2013 (UNHRC)
- Slavery in Mauritania (Anti-Slavery International)
- Slavery’s Last Stronghold (CNN)
- Human Rights in Pakistan (Wikipedia)
- Controversial Blasphemy Laws (Wikipedia)
- Freedom of religion in the Maldives (Wikipedia)
- OIC Member States (OIC)