The United Nations Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States. The Council is responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. According to UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer on September 10, 2013, “the purpose of this council is to protect human rights victims and respond to urgent situations.” However, with the recent climax in Syrian catastrophes, what will it take for the council to open their eyes to the murder of hundreds of men, women, and children?
Within the Human Rights Council exists a group entitled the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. The Council founded the Commission in March 2011 in order to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law. Since the unrest began in March 2011, hundreds of thousands of persons have been displaced from their homes with four million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. The chemical attacks that took place in September were not considered worthy enough for an emergency Human Rights Council session. Hillel Neuer has expressed his concern with the Human Rights Council and its legitimacy.
On September 27, the Human Rights Council published a report that condemned the recent massacre and demanded that Syrian authorities cooperate with the United Nations’ recommendations for entering the country to do more research. What is more distasteful and troubling is that the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, had only mentioned Syria, yet has avoided any condemnation of its murderous regime before the September 27th report.
This issue begs the question: can an international body of countries that works towards human rights equality be unfazed by one of the most destructive acts of the 21st century and still be credible, positive, functional, and even relevant to contemporary issues? Neuer stated in September, “when Assad murdered over 20,000 people in 1982, Syria was still an elected member of the Human Rights Commission and was then reelected. And in 2011, after Syria’s most recent murderous uprising, the country was elected to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s human rights committee.” How can Syria and the suggestions of the UN Council still be working down different paths?
According to the agenda items for September’s Human Rights Council scheduled meeting, only Israel was listed as a high priority item. Where was Syria? I repeat, after one of the most destructive attacks on the human race in the 21st century, how is the UN still attacking Israel? Israel’s hospitals are quietly treating Syria’s injured victims. It is clear that if the United Nations reconsidered whom they consistently verbally attack each and every general assembly and council meeting—the only democracy in the Middle East—then brutal dictators like Assad may have been released from office and never had the chance to use force on their own civilians. Israel has only been defending their country to prevent compromising its freedom and fortitude. David Sharma, the Australian Ambassador to Israel, has also written about the unfair hatred against Israel at a time when Middle Eastern countries are imploding.
Dave Sharma recently published an article in the Times of Israel that explores Israel’s reaction to the Syrian attacks. Many Israeli towns are providing medical care for Syrians who have suffered from their government’s assaults. For example, in the town of Safed in the North of Israel, Ziv Medical Center continues to treat wounded Syrians. Sharma writes, “suffering from shrapnel and bullet wounds, burns and crash injuries, they have somehow managed to make their way to Syrian-Israeli border. If they had remained in Syria, the extent of their injuries means most would have died or been left permanently incapacitated.”
Israel is providing some of the best medical care, the same care offered to Israelis. The support through Ziv Hospital illustrates a side of Israel that the world too rarely sees behind the veil of inaccurate and biased reporting. The United Nations Human Rights Council must reconsider their priorities if they are to be deemed as legitimate, and in the future, act faster and more efficiently if attacks like those on the Syrian people happen again. Syria has dropped their weapons and allowed international weapons inspectors to begin dismantling their weapons arsenal, according to a recent New York Times article. The constant attacks on Israel are not morally respectable and a wave of reality is necessary for a positive future in the Human Rights Council.
Brett Hausler is a Fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America at UMass Amherst. He is a senior studying social thought and political economy in addition to public policy and administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.