The UN’s misplaced ire on human rights

L'ONU a critiqué la loi 78 en raison de son antisémitisme... Une obsession!

Speaking at the opening of a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council this week, the world body’s high commissioner for human rights stressed the need to focus.
“Everyone must be focused on how we can make the greatest impact through the most efficient use of the limited resources available to us,” Navi Pillay said.
And yet she found time in the course of a speech that lambasted the deplorable records of such bastions of human-rights abuses as North Korea, Syria, Zimbabwe and South Sudan to focus ire on Quebec for the comparatively piddling restrictions that the provincial government has imposed on protest demonstrations with its Bill 78.
In lamenting moves to restrict freedom of assembly in various parts of the world, Pillay declared: “In the context of student protest, I am disappointed by the new legislation passed in Quebec that restricts the right to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly.”
On the scale of ludicrous, Pillay’s mention of Quebec in the same context as Eritrea and Russia – the two other places she singled out for cracking down on freedom of assembly – ranks roughly with rabble-rousing MNA Amir Khadir equating himself with Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
It is noteworthy that Pillay delivered her speech in Geneva, where the Human Rights Council is headquartered. Curiously, there was no mention in her speech of the fact that Geneva’s city authorities, backed by a majority of the citizenry in a recent referendum, have placed restrictions on demonstrations that are considerably more stringent than those in Bill 78.
Where the Quebec bill requires eight hours’ notice of a demonstration, the rules in Geneva demand no less than 30 days’ notice. And in Geneva, as under the Quebec law, authorities can demand a change in the route of the proposed demonstration if they fear risks to people and property.
Pillay also made no mention of New York, location of the United Nations’ world headquarters, where city rules call for requests for demonstration permits to be submitted five days before the event. While Pillay pointed a scolding finger at Quebec, she made no mention of the likes of China, Cuba, Belarus, Iran or Saudi Arabia, authoritarian states where dissenters – the counterparts of the protesters against tuition-fee increases here – are routinely subject to arbitrary imprisonment, torture and even execution.
Nor was there acknowledgment that Quebec’s limits on demonstrations were imposed by a democratically elected government, that opponents are free to challenge the law in court – as they are doing – and that the extraordinary measure is only temporary, in response to an extraordinary situation. And no allowance was made for the fact that the law was passed in response to persistent violence and vandalism during the demonstrations.
We are further left to wonder, since there was no mention of it either, whether Pillay finds it acceptable to have students who wish to attend classes be forcefully blocked from entering their schools by masked thugs.
Certainly she and her organization, which includes such stalwart champions of human freedoms as China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Libya, have shown themselves complicit with thuggery in the past. Two years ago Pillay bowed to Chinese pressure to snub the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. It took her months – much longer than Bill 78 has been in effect – to make any mention of the Iranian crackdown on protests after the 2009 rigged presidential election there. As for the UN Human Rights Council, it has persistently backed dictatorial Arab states in their demonization of democratic Israel.
All things considered, Pillay’s slap at Quebec reveals at best a profound ignorance of what has actually transpired here in recent months. At worst it suggests a hostility toward Canada, whose government has been unstinting in its support for Israel. Either way, it does more discredit to herself and her organization than anything else.
It hardly amounts to making the best use of UN resources or what moral authority the organization retains.
Rather, it is the equivalent, as one critic put it, to a prosecutor going after jaywalkers while allowing rapists and murderers to roam free.

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