Friday, April 02, 2010

State Department Principle: Hypocrisy

I have reproduced an excerpt from a speech delivered byHarold Hongju Koh. Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State to the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law in Washington, DC on March 25, 2010. I have added emphasis to some crucial statements and intersperced my commentary.

When the Obama Administration took office, we faced two choices with respect to the Human Rights Council: we could continue to stay away, and watch the flaws continue and possibly get worse, or we could engage and fight for better outcomes on human rights issues, even if they would not be easy to achieve. With the HRC, as with the ICC and other for a, we have chosen principled engagement and strategic multilateralism. While the institution is far from perfect, it is important and deserves the long-term commitment of the United States, and the United States must deploy its stature and moral authority to improve the U.N. human rights system where possible. This is a long-term effort, but one that we are committed to seeing through to success consistent with the basic goals of the Obama-Clinton doctrine: principled engagement and universality of human rights law.

HRC members are elected to the council on a regional basis. The realities of geopolitics dictate the fact that the enemies of human rights will always have a majority on the council. Our side will continue to be out voted, no matter how we pursue our principles. Our engagement is ineffectual.

Our inaugural session as an HRC member in September saw some important successes, most notably the adoption by consensus of a freedom of expression resolution, which we co-sponsored with Egypt, that brought warring regional groups together and preserved the resolution as a vehicle to express firm support for freedom of speech and expression. This resolution was a way of implementing some of the themes in President Obama’s historic speech in Cairo, bridging geographic and cultural divides and dealing with global issues of discrimination and intolerance.

Harold Koh was referring to A/HRC/12/L.l4/Rev. which, contrary to his assertion, does nothing to support freedom of expression, which includes these expressions:

Recognizes the positive contribution that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, particularly by the media, including through information and communication technologies such as the Internet, and full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can make to the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and to preventing human rights abuses, but expresses regret at the promotion by certain media of false images and negative stereotypes of vulnerable individuals or groups of individuals, and at the use of information and communication technologies such as the Internet for purposes contrary to respect for human rights, in particular the perpetration of violence against and exploitation and abuse of women and children, and disseminating racist and xenophobic discourse or content;

In that context, "racism" & "related intolerance" are code words for criticism of Islam. The right to free expression can contribute to ending "Islamophobia"; yeah, right. "Promotion by certain media of false images and negative stereotypes" is a thinly veiled reference to the Motoons & Fitna. The resolution is, in reality, a demand for censorship.

We also joined country resolutions highlighting human rights situations in Burma, Somalia, Cambodia, and Honduras, and were able to take positions joined by other countries on several resolutions on which the United States previously would have been isolated, including ones on toxic waste and the financial crisis. The challenges in developing a body that fairly and even-handedly addresses human rights issues are significant, but we will continue to work toward that end.

How about the human rights abuses subsequent to the stolen election in Iran? What did you do about that in the council?

At the March HRC session, which ends tomorrow, we have continued to pursue principled engagement by taking on a variety of initiatives at the HRC that seek to weaken protections on freedom of expression, in particular, the push of some Council Members to ban speech that “defames” religions, such as the Danish cartoons. At this session, we made supported a country resolution on Guinea and made significant progress in opposing the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s highly problematic “defamation of religions” resolution, even while continuing to deal with underlying concerns about religious intolerance.

So you flipped three votes on the Defamation of Religions Resolution, big deal; it still carried a majority and it will continue to do so every year unless you can flip the votes of four OIC members. The American delegation recently submitted a draft proposal which they would substitute for the draft resolution before the Ad Hoc Committee for the Elaboration of Complementary Standards, which would amend ICERD to criminalize all criticism of Islam. I dissected that new draft in a previous blog post.

Where the OIC and its allies are concerned, religious intolerance is not a concern. Islam is extremely intolerant. Truthful exposure of the doctrines and practices of Islam are what they are concerned about. The Motoons depicted Moe as a terrorist, which he was, by his own bragging. Fitna exposed the connection between the doctrines enshrined in the Qur'an and the violence done by Muslim mobs after Juman Salat. Islamic law prescribes the death penalty for reviling Allah, Moe, and their war cult. A Muslim who does that, or who questions any Islamic doctrine is deemed an apostate subject to execution. Turn to and read O8.2, O8.7 and O11.5. {Book O, Chapters 8 & 11}
They want to impose that law on us.

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