On Friday, March 18, 2005 the 61st UN Commission on Human Rights began its substantive discussion on Agenda Items 4 and 5, Item 4 dealing with the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and follow-up to the World Conference on Human Rights, and Item 5 pertaining to The right of peoples to self-determination and its application to peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation. Unfortunately, vampires swooped down in a bat-like flurry amidst the somber hall of Room 17 in Geneva’s Palais des Nations and bled both items dry until their bloodless corpses were scattered and soon removed by UN Security Guards.
In regards to Item 4, it would appear that Mme. Arbour’s Annual Report, Report on the situation of human rights in the Sudan and Iraq were the cause of the initial vampire attack, and it is still unclear whether Mme. Arbour has a direct relationship with said vampires or whether the subsequent mutilation of the agenda item was a pure coincidence. In comparison to her predecessor, the charismatic Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, Mme. Arbour’s flaccid presentation of not only her Annual Report but also the reports on Sudan and Iraq, lends credence to the notion that possibly she is the Queen of the Vampires, and in fact summoned their presence to the 12 th and 13th meetings of the Commission, but this can not be substantially proven as of yet. Because of her weak and fence-sitting posturing of her Office, there was no opportunity for meaningful discussion and every intervention made during this agenda Item reflected this sad state. Shockingly, the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right on the situation of human rights in Iraq was grossly understated with regards to the horrific human rights violations perpetrated by the members of the Occupying forces within Iraq. In fact, the report went so far as to legitimize the illegal occupation and brutalization of the sovereign nation by citing the Security Council resolution that emerged after the United States took control of the oil fields with their shock and awe techniques, meant to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi, but instead have left a deep red stain on the credibility of the United States, so-called champions of human rights in the world. Aside from criticisms, also, from the Sudanese government of the High Commissioner’s report on Human Rights in Sudan (these in fact unfounded as we are all aware of the vampires residing in that government also who demand more blood every day, a demand that seems to be insatiable), many Members and Observers of the Commission noted the importance of the Right to Development be recognized as a human right. It was also noted several times that the responsibility of monitoring and bringing to justice human rights violations is in the hands of governments and governments alone, ironically in the light of discussions regarding UN Reform and methods to make the UN processes more effective in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Once the body of Item 4 was sufficiently bled dry by the visiting vampires, the Commission broke for lunch so that the humans could regain their strength for the afternoon session.
After lunch (the remnants of the Item 4 carcass having been cleaned from Room 17, otherwise known as the hell-mouth) Item 5 on Self-Determination was brought before the Commission. Sadly, the vampires emerged once again to brutalize substantial discussion on this very pertinent issue, especially to the indigenous populations of the world.
Ms. Shaista Shameem, the Special Rapporteur on The use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, fearless and armed with her current report as well as finely sharpened stakes, discussed issues such as the problematic of international privately owned military and security companies (rampant in Iraq among other countries), the alleged coup d’etat in Equatorial Guinea, as well as the rampant issue of South African mercenaries in Zimbabwe and employed by the Occupying forces of Iraq. Interestingly, she noted that mercenaries and terrorists are not necessarily the same thing and often time mercenaries are hired by governments to perform anti-terrorism work within nations, ironically and disturbingly. There is in fact a Convention prohibiting the use of mercenaries, but it is not widely ratified, and especially not by the nations that most utilize mercenaries. During the interactive dialogue, on which the Commission Members and Observers were eerily mute for the first time this year, only Cuba took the floor to request that Ms. Shameem in her next report focus in greater detail on these so-called private military companies and their activities, which appear to fall outside the legislation of international law and military law, a very problematic issue when it comes to human rights violations and their subsequent impunity.
Maybe it was due to Ms. Shameem’s razor-sharp stakes or intellectual preparedness to tackle this issue, but the vampires did not attack Item 5 until after her role in it was completed. Once Member States of the Commission began to take the floor, the blood began to drain from any substantial and productive discussion. Instead, Item 5 became an extension of the Israeli-Palestine issue, even though self-determination has consequences that range much further than this one issue. Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Libya on the part of the Arab Group, Egypt, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Mauritania, Pakistan, China, India, and Eritrea all discussed in repetitive detail the human rights violations of Israel in the Occupied Territories of Palestine and Syria. China, in an absolutely reprehensible statement, extolled the right of self-determination as provided for in various human rights treaties, but went on to note that self-determination does not provide for the corruption of territorial integrity nor the splitting of sovereign states. Sickeningly, China supported Palestinian self-determination without a mention of the Tibetan issue or other China-occupied territories. Cuba mentioned the use of mercenaries as well as terrorist attacks against their sovereign nation by the USA. The USA made a new claim that self-determination, although provided for by various international treaty bodies, is actually defined by free and fair elections in a democratic system. Since they are the self-appointed Ruler of the Galaxy, I assume they feel it’s appropriate to change the definition of self-determination to block its enjoyment as a human right in the world. It could also be postulated that it is the American government that called upon the fiendish powers of the vampires, but this claim also cannot be proven yet.
When Observer Government delegations took the floor on Item 5, the only issue discussed was the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Syria aside from Liechtenstein claiming that mercenaries as a violation of human rights is not an appropriate human rights issue.
NGOs who took the floor also focused on the issue of Israel, Palestine and Syria, attacking it from all sides. Other notable topics were human rights violations of the USA, the situation of Kashmir also attacked from all sides. The Turkish invasion of Cyprus was mentioned, as well as the forcible relocation of indigenous populations in Botswana Game Reserves, the situation of human rights violations against the indigenous Hawaiians and Alaskans in the USA, and a mention of the fact that the Sri Lankan government has been depriving the Tamil populations in the north of relief supplies in the wake of the horrific December tsunami.
During the final moments of the day, during the Right of Reply segment, the vampires were joined by demons as the governments of Morocco and Algeria, as well as Pakistan and India continued their verbal (and seriously undiplomatic) feuds, much to the sickened amusement of those present.
I would hope that in the coming weeks whoever invoked the presence of the blood-sucking vampires would refrain from their black magic so that we human rights defenders may do our work in peace and contribute to the actual promotion and protection of human rights in the world, through the esteemed United Nations system.
In honour of Tony Black Feather,