From the "You've Got to Be *%$!ing Me" Department

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Reporters sans frontières has recently had its consultative status with the UN Human Rights Commission stripped away, in violation of UN procedure. Exactly half of the commission voted against RSF, and three four members abstained, so the motion passed. Who were these fine global citizens? Here's the list: Azerbaijan, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Normally, there'd be some smartass quip here, but I'm too struck dumb by how completely buggered and insane this is to come up with one. (Thanks to Amy at 50 Minute Hour for the tip.)

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  1. Steve,

    Vienna Rules of International Procedure allow for this kind of situation as I recall.

    “The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the body that took this decision, never invited Reporters Without Borders to explain its action. The failure to respect sanction procedures has been criticised by the FRENCH government, which lodged a request for a postponement of any decision to suspend the organisation. This suspension of one of the few press freedom organisations to have consultative status with ECOSOC is farce of the kind that increasingly characterizes the commission on human rights.”

    “Reporters Without Borders today publishes a report which details the excesses, shortcomings and accelerating decline of this commission, which dictatorships such as Cuba and China have taken over in order to strip it of all substance.”

    “Against (23) : Andorra, Australia, Chile, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States.”

  2. I wonder why Japan abstained? Fear of pissing off oil-exporting countries?

  3. BTW, all Reporters sans fronti?res has to do is ask one of the member states of the UN to give them access, and they have it. Of course this doesn’t allow them to speak on the floor, etc. of the UN, but it does provide them access to delegations, etc. A lot of NGOs gain access this way.

  4. Croesus: I’ll take your word on the Vienna procedure (IIRC, even Robert’s Rules normally allows abstentions not to count on main motions unless otherwise specified by the body’s bylaws, which if course was in question).
    My comment is mostly directed at the Hit & Run summary which says “and three members abstained, so the motion passed.” Looking at the RSF report, that should be four, shouldn’t it?

  5. Steve, I see, yes. Japan, plus the other three.

  6. Well, to be frank, these sort of actions have always been a part of the UN’s history – so it’s not really an issue of decline so much as its a maintenance of the status quo. BTW, why was there no similar outrage a few months ago when the US blocked a measure before the UN Human Rights Commission which criticized China for its human rights abuses over the past year?

  7. I also noticed while surfing through their site that Reporters sans fronti?res was bitching about a court which forbade their use of the famous picture of “Che” in a campaign to voice their opposition to Cuban treatment of reporters. The article made it appear as if Frrench court was somehow morally bankrupt for doing so, when in fact it clearly followed the law of France when it comes to personality rights that are invested in copyrighted materials. Anyway, I found their article slightly disingenuous.

  8. Yes, up till now, I had great hope and confidence in the UN human rights commission.

  9. Disgusting. Infuriating. Revolting. Disappointing.

  10. Does anyone need further proof that the UN has become a complete and utter joke with all the moral authority of an organized crime syndicate?

  11. And your suprised at this because…? Given the states composing the human rights commission, I am suprised they didn’t do this sooner.

  12. It’s ironic, since by this action the Human Rights Commission has proven Reporters Without Borders’ report on it’s decline true.

  13. Um, I hate to correct, but isn’t the vote 27 in favor, 23 against, with four abstentions? Just looking at the link you gave for the article. Obviously, if the rules require a majority of seated, it’s still a tie, but still.

  14. Croesus,

    It’s because the French courts allow for “infringing” trademarks and copyrights if there is -leftist- satirical intent. See merdeinfrance.blogspot.com for an example of how Esso’s trademark was parodied as E$$O and protected by French courts.

  15. Ray says: “up till now, I had great hope and confidence in the UN human rights commission”

    Then you must have been hiding under the bed or something; my only “confidence” in that bunch is that they’ll screw over human rights on a daily basis.

    Evilcor asks: “Is it too much to ask them to go a week without making total fools of themselves?”

    Of course it is; consider the source. Silly you. 🙂

  16. I agree with most of the comments made. I too was puzzled by Japan’s vote. Perhaps they import a lot of oil from Libya? Don’t want to offend China? But let’s hear it for brave little South Korea! Gutsy. Another puzzlement: why India’s vote against the RSF? I understand the others, but why India?

  17. Barbara,

    It was sarcasm Barb, try some decaf.

    More to the point; who has ever taken the UN human rights commission seriously? Their shameful membership roster is nothing new but some French reporters get their undies in a bind and suddenly it’s news.

  18. Sadly, Eric is both completely right and he beat me to the punch.
    Every day the U.N. goes more and more the way of the League.
    Iran, China, Libya, Zimbabwe? Is there a worse list of countries to put on a human-rights council?
    Is it too much to ask them to go a week without making total fools of themselves?

  19. Stripping away the rights of Reporters sans Frontieres affects other issues as well.

    For example, RSF had previously invited Taiwanese officials to discuss the SARS situation in Taiwan. This discussion was to take place in the UN. Of course China simply called up Kofi Annan and he forbid the meeting.

    Taiwan has a population of 23 million people, and they are not represented in the UN. Perhaps Kofi should look in the mirror before criticizing the US for not holding elections in Iraq.

  20. The only way to stop things such as this would be to kick out countries like China, Zimbabwe, etc. However, given that the UN tolerated such regimes as the DDR and the USSR, that isn’t very likely. The UN is a reflection of the world we live in, that is the world’s regimes, as much as the US Congress is a reflection of the United States. Which is of course why its such BS to blame the UN for one thing or another – the UN is powerless without the member states that make it up, as so long as ideas like sovereignty mean anything that will continue to be the case. This is of course why comparing the actions of the UN to some state is a bit ludicrous.

  21. Aaron,

    Well, as China is a member of the Security Council, I don’t know if Kofi could have done anything about it.

  22. Fernando,

    Well, at least Brazil has “good company.”

  23. Really ashamed to see Brazil siding with Cuba, Iran, Lybia and others against RSF. Our new government is undoing all and any credibility gains we have made in the previous administration. And this is the country who wants a permanent seat in UN Security Council? What a joke.

  24. Ernest Brown,

    The basic problem is that neither you nor the blogger understand TM or copyright law.

  25. Earnest Brown,

    Which, I might add, is evidenced by the very confusion of the terms that you demonstrated in your posts. A TM is a TM, and a copyright is a copyright.

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