December 10 is known as International Human Rights Day, marking the anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Conventions. But in 2009, as in past years, there is little to celebrate - this has been another bad year for human rights. In Darfur, the
This bleak record highlights the abject failure of the international community to live up to its moral commitments. The United Nations Human Rights Council pursues a cynical agenda that uses the rhetoric of international law as a weapon in the political war targeting
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC),
THE NON-GOVERNMENTAL human rights watchdogs that were created to offset the unethical behavior and biases of anti-democratic governments, have become accomplices. Superpowers like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), and similar groups work closely with and support the agendas of the UNHRC and other international frameworks.
They joined officials from Arab countries in campaigning on behalf of the Goldstone Report. Instead of speaking truth to this blatant abuse of power, officials of these self-proclaimed human rights groups are part of the problem, and most journalists blindly follow their lead. The past year has seen even greater cooperation between the UN and NGOs in distorting human rights values beyond recognition. Human Rights Watch was caught raising funds from wealthy members of
In parallel, Amnesty International and other groups continue to warp human rights and international law into ideological platforms for fighting Western democracy and open societies. Like HRW, a highly disproportionate percentage of Amnesty's reports and campaigns focus on criticizing the
BUT IN 2009, there were also some signs that the "halo effect," which protects human rights frameworks from scrutiny and criticism, has begun to deteriorate. Robert Bernstein, the founder of HRW, published an op-ed in the New York Times in which he denounced his own organization for betraying its moral principles. Although HRW officials launched a campaign to discredit Bernstein and other critics, the charges are too serious to be ignored, and HRW will need an entirely new and unbiased leadership to restore its credibility.
In addition, the April 2009 attempt to reproduce the catastrophic 2001 Durban NGO Forum - in which 1500 radical NGOs used a UN anti-racism conference to promote anti-Semitism - was defeated.
These are small but important steps in the right direction. The absurdity of human rights groups raising funds from wealthy Saudi leaders, and of a Libyan official chairing UN human rights sessions in which
Gerald Steinberg heads NGO Monitor and is a professor of political science at
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