Friday, July 1, 2016

Reflection on the crisis in human rights at the United Nations

  “It seems to me clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime.” - Mohandas Gandhi

The United Nations Human Rights Council at Ten
Today is the final day of the 32nd Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council and 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of its founding.  The effort to portray the UN Human Rights Council as a success with a polished video production highlighting the successes over the past decade is underwhelming to say the least.

The mood among human rights experts at the United Nations is somber and with good reason. Human rights across the world have been in decline for the past decade. The High Commissioner for Human Rights gave a global human rights update with nuggets of frankness within a torrent of politically correct rhetoric.
"When filthy abuse by politicians of the vulnerable is tolerated; when the laws – human rights law, refugee law, international humanitarian law – are increasingly violated, and when hospitals are bombed – but no one is punished;  When human rights, the two words, are so rarely found in the world of finance and business, in its literature, in its lexicon – why? Because it is shameful to mention them?  When working for the collective benefit of all people, everywhere is apparently losing its ardour, and features only in empty proclamations swelling with unjustified self-importance and selfishness."
First the worse of the worst have been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council and these bad actors have gutted human rights standards, compromised the Council's moral authority and made a laughing stock out this international human rights body.

Secondly the UN Secretary General visited a totalitarian regime in 2014 that has targeted and beaten up women, met with the dictators and praised their treatment of the women that they have been brutalizing in Cuba in spite of plenty of documented evidence to the contrary. Now as Venezuela sinks further into a humanitarian and human rights crisis the UN Secretary General returned to Cuba in 2016 and praises Nicolas Maduro, helping to legitimize this emerging dictator in Venezuela.

When the United Nations Human Rights Council and the UN Secretary General pander to politicians who abuse the vulnerable, as has been the high profile cases in Cuba and Venezuela, tolerating their "filthy" behavior then it sets an example reflected elsewhere around the world and belief in an international human rights order is diminished and cynicism becomes the norm in the institution.

Thirdly, the decision to abandon the right to life of the unborn while embracing so-called abortion rights which also opens the intellectual path to defend infanticide is an error of historic proportions.  Taking a life can never be a right but at best a necessary evil done in self defense.

Declaring the killing of the unborn a human right is a fundamental contradiction and it has far reaching consequences. This didn't start today but the breakdown of the international human rights consensus was formally manifested 26 years ago with the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.  The Iranian representative to the United Nations explained that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a "relativistic secular understanding of the Judeo Christian tradition." However the UN Human Rights Declaration as initially conceived was not relativistic but over time human rights mechanisms have engaged in a proliferation of rights that includes "abortion rights" that has led to a breakdown in the 1948 consensus. 

Amnesty International's campaign beginning in 2007 to conflate the right to an abortion with its worldwide campaign to stop violence against women alienated many Catholic supporters, and has been described as anti-Catholic. Catholic bishops, who had been members of Amnesty International, resigned over the abortion issue because the human rights group had become an abortion lobby group. Catholics generally have been encouraged to boycott the organization. Independent Catholic News reported:
Cardinal Martino, who served as the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations, says that this change of position is part of the "pro-death" agenda in modern culture. The cardinal said that Amnesty International's decision means Catholics and Catholic organizations should no longer financially support the group. "The promotion of abortion opens the door to the slippery slope of evil and death, where human rights are taken away from the most innocent and vulnerable children of God," he said. "I believe that, if in fact Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support."
The above critique now applies to the United Nations Human Rights Council that has declared abortion a human right. This conflicts with Article Three of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to life, and this is not accidental. This is because this human rights document drafted and signed on December 10, 1948 was not a compromise between liberalism and socialism but lobbied for and drafted by Christian Democrats with the active support of the Catholic Church and values agreed upon in 1948 by the entire world.

The decision of the UN Human Rights Committee in March of 2016 to criticize Ireland's pro-life laws says more about the United Nations than it does Ireland. This decision is in conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ignores its pro-life clause under Article 3. There are 1.27 billion Catholics, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1.0  billion Hindus and 535 million Buddhists who combined make up 4.41 billion believers that hold strong bioethical considerations against abortion. At the top of the page a quote by Mohandas Gandhi indicates that this great moral and nonviolent teacher did not view abortion, a violent act by definition, as a right but a crime. There is an international consensus on the right to life that has been discarded by bureaucrats at the United Nations and in Western centers of power that actively promote abortion as a right. Pope John Paul II observed that:
This culture [of death] is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favoured tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of "conspiracy against life" is unleashed. This conspiracy involves not only individuals in their personal, family or group relationships, but goes far beyond, to the point of damaging and distorting, at the international level, relations between peoples and States.
This is why "human rights" that are now being used to promote what Pope John Paul II called a "culture of death" has now become a term that some find shameful to mention and it will only get worse. Declaring that "abortion rights are human rights", as the United Nations has now done is the same kind of doublethink as "War is Peace." This is accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct and this is madness.

Ideas have consequences, especially when they are acted on. The path on which the human rights community has embarked upon is an ongoing disaster. It is not only "abortion rights" but also other controversial issues such as "torture" that are now entertained on the grounds of utility and efficiency.

This is a profound crisis that is at the heart of the deteriorating global human rights situation that has gripped humanity for the past decade. The global human rights crisis is worse than we thought it goes beyond geopolitical circumstance and to first principles on the nature of human rights that those in positions of power have rejected. 

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