Comments by David G. Littman, NGO Representative to the United Nations – Geneva: The Association for World Education and the World Union for Progressive Judaism
Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to send articles to Jihad Watch over the past three months, as I have been working non-stop to finish a documentary magnum opus in French with Prof. Paul Fenton (L’Exil au Maghreb : La condition juive sous l’Islam, 1148-1912). It will be published next month by the Sorbonne (Paris, 800 p. and 75 ill.) and should clarify many myths.
I intended to convey some of our oral statements and UN videos from the UN Human Rights Council 15th session in September, but this has not yet panned out. However, why not start with the oral statement I was able to deliver, unexpectedly, as the penultimate speaker yesterday.
When creating the Human Rights Council in March 2006, the UN General Assembly decided that its work and functioning shall be reviewed five years after it came into existence. An open-ended intergovernmental working group – on the review of the work and functioning of the Council – was established and the 1st session is currently taking place (25 to 29 October 2010).
I was able to read aloud the moving writing on the wall by referring once again to the very clear declarations – regarding the Commission – made in 2003 by the later High Commissioner for Human Rights SÃ©rgio Vieira de Mello, which apply even more glaringly to the current Council.
ASSOCIATION FOR WORLD EDUCATION
United Nations Human Rights Council Review – Working Group (25-29 October 2010)
Statement by David G. Littman – Monday (5:30pm), 25 October 2010
Item 3: General discussion on the work and functioning of the Human Rights Council
Sir, we appreciate this opportunity to speak out on such a highly crucial subject now. Mr President, we are making available our documented written statement, submitted five years ago to the Commission’s 62nd final session, as both its title and contents are still pertinent today: E/CN.4/2006/NGO/1: General comments on the Human Rights Commission and a future Council: “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” (here). Churchill’s ‘enigma’ could easily well be applied to the Council.
Six months ago [23-3-2010], we expressed our homage for the renowned former High Commissioner SÃ©rgio Vieira de Mello, whose bronze bust honours his memory outside the Palais Wilson. [He was killed with 20 members of his staff in the Baghdad Canal Hotel Bombing. (19/8/03)]
It was his Report to the Commission’s 59th session in 2003 that stimulated an attempt to improve Human Rights mechanisms, leading to the Commission’s demise and the creation of what was hoped would be a Council sensitive to Universal Human Rights rather than obsessed by “selectivity and politicization” – the criticism that former Secretary-General Kofi Annan leveled at the Commission. [HCHR: “Follow-up to the World Conference on Human Rights”: E/CN.4/2003/14 of Feb. 2003]
As Kofi Annan declared here at the Assembly Hall a year later: the Commission had been undermined by allowing participation of countries whose purpose was: “not to strengthen human rights but to protect themselves against criticism or to criticize others.” His chief of staff Mark Malloch Brown put it even more bluntly: “For the great global public, the performance or non-performance of the Human Rights Commission has become the litmus test of UN renewal.” This litmus test is more evident now as the Council completes its fifth year and the reputation of the whole UN human rights system is at stake.
Mr President: “Remember me!” Those parting words by the ghost of Hamlet’s father have inspired us to remember SÃ©rgio Vieira de Mello at this key moment of TRUTH.
His memorable message reads:
Membership of the Commission on Human Rights must carry responsibilities. I therefore wonder whether the time has not come for the Commission itself to develop a code of guidelines for access to membership of the Commission and a code of conduct for members while they serve on the Commission.
After all, the Commission on Human Rights has a duty to humanity and the members of the Commission must themselves set the example of adherence to the international human rights norms – in practice as well as in law. [Point 5 Â§4]
International Human Rights cannot mean ‘Cultural Relativism’, nor ‘Complimentary Standards’. He clearly was referring to the International Bill of Human Rights and nothing else. Here is de Mello’s conclusion:
Without universal respect for human rights, the vision of the Charter of a world of peace grounded in respect for human rights and economic and social justice will remain an illusion. Let us vindicate the Charter’s vision by being faithful to the universal implementation of human rights. In doing so we shall continue in the direction of history, rather than allowing ourselves to be diverted from the course we know to be just. [Â§ 55]
Sir, in conclusion, we shall reiterate that ancient adage, in which we firmly believe: Truth is powerful and will ultimately prevail /Magna est veritas et praevalebit.