It appears Syria’s candidacy for membership at the United Nations Human Rights Council at a time that Damascus is cracking down on the Arab Spring in its own backyard was dropped. Syria’s withdrawal was due in large part, according to AFP, to the lobbying efforts of Western nations:
“France, the United States, Britain and their allies are looking for an Asian nation to challenge Syria’s candidacy or to get other countries to vote against it.
Syria has said its candidacy ‘signifies its commitment to respect and to support the inalienable and indivisible nature of all human rights.’
But France’s human rights ambassador, Francois Zimeray, said it was necessary to block Syria ‘to make sure that the Human Rights Council remains credible.'”
Note the last word – “credible.” The effort to prevent Syria from a three-year term on the UNHRC was done in the name of credibility, as if the council had that before Syria sought admission. The New York Times editorialized on this issue as well, calling for Syria to be dropped from consideration in the name of credibility:
“Electing Syria would make a mockery of the Council — one from which it might never be able to recover. And it would make a mockery of all the countries that voted for Syria. Syria must be dropped from the slate.”
Naturally. Now that Syria has been dropped, the highly democratic pro-human rights replacement is … Kuwait?
Yes, Kuwait. According to the Washington Post:
“Kuwait is going to replace Syria as a candidate for a seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body in what would be a victory for human rights groups and many governments opposed to the ongoing crackdown by President Bashar Assad’s security forces, Western diplomats said Tuesday.”
The Geneva, Switzerland-based organization, UN Watch was quoted in Bloomberg noting that the U.S. State Dept.’s assessment of Kuwait’s regime has “limited freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association and religion.” Not exactly a good resume for a spot on the UNCHR, but not to worry, UN Watch was also quoted in the Post as pointing out that Kuwait is “far better than Syria, but another non-democracy nevertheless.” That’s ok, cause Kuwait isn’t Syria and it doesn’t appear that UN Watch will raise a stink despite the State Dept.’s human rights record linked on the group’s press release. (They still have not, as of this writing.)
But since credibility is the issue, what of the credibility of those who opposed Syria’s candidacy?
UN Watch bills itself as “a non-governmental organization based in Geneva whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter.” Sounds legit, yet upon further reading one realizes that this isn’t some independent NGO, but a pro-Israel lobbying organization. A look at their “Mission & History” section makes this abundantly clear:
“UN Watch was established in 1993 under the Chairmanship of Ambassador Morris B. Abram, the former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.”
According to the right-wing Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Abram is on record saying the Fourth Geneva Convention:
“was not designed to cover situations like Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, but rather the forcible transfer, deportation or resettlement of large numbers of people.”
Furthermore, “UN Watch is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee (AJC),” a group identified in Salon.com as “The American Jewish Committee is the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States.” The organization seeks to undermine “the disproportionate attention and unfair treatment applied by the UN toward Israel” and is governed by an international board that includes AJC Executive Director; Ambassador Max Jakobson and Professor Irwin Cotler, international human rights advocate and former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada, who is also on the board of directors – among other things – of the pro-Israel Middle East Media Research Institute.
So, it’s clear that the effort to get Syria off the UNHRC was as much for Syria’s crime of supporting anti-Israel terror groups as much as it was for shooting down Syrian protestors. In other words, it appears that Israel – through UN Watch and others – have scored a military victory through diplomatic means against Syria.