Commentary and Newsletters

Anne Bayefsky

Does Congress really care?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The anti-democratic forces that control the UN General Assembly are used to getting their way. For decades they have cloaked themselves in the myth of one state-one vote equals international democracy, even though the hallmarks of freedom would be news to their folks at home. That explains this week's letter from the so-called Non-aligned Movement (NAM) complaining the Security Council is encroaching on their alleged turf. It also explains the war of words this week between the "G-77 plus China", (the largest single bloc within the General Assembly 132 states), and U.S. Representatives Republican Henry Hyde and Democrat Tom Lantos - with the G-77 attempting to insulate the Assembly from Congressional and other scrutiny.

The audacity of the G-77 and the NAM, however, emanates from decades of an American willingness to just keep paying. The UN has long been perceived as a harmless talking-shop. In the absence of serious oversight and American-Western-democratic control over UN output, with minor exceptions American taxpayers have been expected to pay for anti-American activities on the ground that they somehow contribute to the general welfare.

We will soon know if this penchant for self-flagellation, or deep-seated guilt-complex, or the belief that hate-filled reports and resolutions are mere words, is still with us. The "final" draft of the UN Human Rights Council is expected to be released on Tuesday, February 21st and the pressure to adopt it the following week will be enormous. What is on the table, regardless of how the unresolved issues in the penultimate draft are decided, is a catastrophe from the point of view of the international protection of human rights and the United States. It promises to create a new UN primary human rights body that significantly weakens the hold of democratic societies on its agenda and results.

Congress has very little time left to indicate it cares. Indifference to the creation of a new UN-based, global platform to undercut democracy, freedom and unadulterated universal human rights standards, will have serious consequences.