Thursday, July 10, 2008

More on UNHRC

There has been quite a bit of criticism of New Zealand's candidature in the blogosphere and the media. For example this from Fran O'Sullivan.

Within the Israeli community, there are concerns that neither politician wants to say anything on record that might disturb New Zealand's campaign for a seat on the two-year-old United Nations Human Rights Council.

But Beehive officials say travel disruption at Wellington Airport meant that Rotem's meeting with Peters was cut short and the resultant meeting was not all-embracing. Goff's media availability has been constrained due to a family bereavement.

The unfortunate upshot is a perception that neither politician wants to speak frankly about Iran in case New Zealand's UN campaign is jeopardised by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference which is one of the dominant forces on the rights council.

Firstly I would say that Canada is leaving the Council and has been the only reliable vote for a balanced assessment of Israel. I hope, perhaps in vain, that we would continue the same role.

Secondly I would say that the situation with Iran here makes me uneasy also, if true. However, there is quite possibly room for some work sharing here. It may be more important to have Canada and Australia speaking out robustly against the nuclear program and New Zealand on the Council rather than Canada, Australia and New Zealand speaking out robustly against the nuclear program and none of these countries on the Council.

Kiwiblog has also been on a crusade against our candidature. It seems that his main objection is to some of the abuses that I referred to in my previous post and to some of the more dubious members of the Council. It seems to me that if we withdraw rather than attempting to continue the process of reform then that is a very serious message that we have lost faith in the UN and the possibility of UN reform more generally. The consequences of this are serious, and particularly with the Bush administration shortly to depart the scene I can't see that we should be ready to do that yet. Can I just note that Iran is not now and has never been a member of the Council contrary to what DPF appears to believe. (Saudi Arabia seems to me the most egregious admission to membership of the Council.)

Finally the Hive has a series of useful posts on this issue. Although I can't quite decide if they are in favour of or against our candidature.

No comments: