In an unprecedented reversal, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has backed off from her earlier endorsement of an Arab text calling for the “elimination” of Zionism, in response to a UN Watch protest. News of the controversy was covered internationally, sparking a series of Canadian newspaper editorials critical of Ms. Arbour’s initial statement and her overall handling of the affair. Following is a timeline of the events as they unfolded around the globe.
Jan. 24, 2008, Geneva: High Commissioner Arbour issues an official statement: “I welcome the 7th ratification required to bring the Arab Charter on Human Rights into force… the Arab Charter on Human Rights is an important step forward [to] help strengthen the enjoyment of human rights.” At U.N. headquarters in New York, Marie Okabe, spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, highlights Arbour’s statement. When asked, she does not have the text of the charter…
Jan. 30, 2008, Geneva & New York: Arbour changes course. Now she asserts that various Arab Charter provisions are “incompatible” with international norms. The UN headquarters in New York issues a new release, entitled “Arab rights charter deviates from international standard.”
Arbour’s new statement:
“Throughout the development of the Arab Charter, my office shared concerns with the drafters about the incompatibility of some of its provisions with international norms and standards. These concerns included the approach to death penalty for children and the rights of women and non-citizens.”
“Moreover, to the extent that it equates Zionism with racism, we reiterated that the Arab Charter is not in conformity with General Assembly Resolution 46/86, which rejects that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination. OHCHR [the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] does not endorse these inconsistencies.” — from this news article
Louise Arbour is not, I assume, an idiot. She is therefore quite capable of taking the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the “Muslim” version that was crafted so that Muslims could pretend to be signing simply a slightly-different version — hoping that no one would bother too much about those little differences — that is, the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, and going through them, comparing them, provision by provision.
And once she has done that, she might wish to read a bit about Islam. She might wish to read, and re-read, the Qur’an, and hundreds of the Hadith collected in al-Bukhari and Muslim and judged to be the most “authentic.” And then she might wish to read the biographies of Muhammad, the man who is the Model of Conduct, uswa hasana, the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil.
After all, last I looked, and last Louise Arbour looked, Islam was in the news. And I suspect it will continue to be in the news, for some time, for all time, to come.
Doesn’t Louise Arbour have a responsibility to properly inform herself? And might she not wish to glance, just glance at, such books as The Dhimmi and Islam and Dhimmitude (both by Bat Ye’or), and The Myth of Islamic Tolerance (ed. Robert Spencer) and another half-dozen books?
No time? Too busy?
Is there anything that could conceivably be more important to the future of the West, to its art and science and human freedoms, and to the continued existence of solicitude for individual rights — the very thing that Louise Arbour is supposed to care most about — than learning, and not from apologists, about Islam?
She should consider such self-education part of her job — now the most indispensable part of her job.
And while she is at it, she just might find time to meet with, inter alios, Ibn Warraq and Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Ali Sina, and a dozen or several dozen others. She should meet with them quietly, without publicity, in order to find out what they, who were born into and raised within Islam, might possibly have to explain to her, or inform her about. And she, in turn, can then make of what they tell her.
She owes this to those who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to those who wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Man, to those who wrote the American Bill of Rights.