Thursday, March 1, 2012

UN Watch: On Syria, The UN Human Rights Council Has Been Wrong for So Long

Testimony before urgent session of the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, March 1, 2012, delivered by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

Thank you, Madam President.

The nations gathered here, including Syria, have solemnly pledged to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Yet when a government massacres thousands of its own citizens—innocent men, women and children—it violates that declaration's most basic right: the right to life.

When a government turns heavy artillery upon its own cities, day after day, it commits inhuman acts that shock our collective conscience.

When a government announces that it has held a referendum adopting a new constitution, on the same day that it bombards whole neighborhoods, killing 138 people, its cruelty is compounded by cynicism.

We ask: Does Syria believe the UN will be silent while it commits mass murder before the eyes of the world?

If so, perhaps it is because, for too long, this council turned a blind eye to Syria's gross human rights abuses.

Perhaps it is because this council, for too long, turned a blind eye to regimes such as Qaddafi's Libya, whose representative was elected as its chair.

Sadly, this council allowed Syria to play the role of a human rights champion.

For too long, this council adopted Syrian-sponsored resolutions against a neighboring state, a liberal democracy that protects, not attacks, its citizens.

We have just heard several council members defend and justify the actions of Syria's regime. In doing so, they breach their pledge to promote human rights, and place their own membership credentials in question.

Madam President,

The Human Rights Council has been wrong for so long. As a result, millions have suffered. For the sake of Syria's victims, it is time to right this wrong.

As stated in the preamble of the Universal Declaration, a government that shows contempt for human rights, and practices tyranny and oppression, loses its right to govern.

Today, it is time for this council to send a clear message: a government that murders its citizens must go.

Thank you, Madam President.

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