Nebehay reappears today with a puff piece on the UN Human Rights Council and its chief Navi Pillay which appears to be a reply to recent op-eds critical of the UN body by Amnon Rubinstein in the Jerusalem Post and Alan Dershowitz in the Huffington Post.
Nebehay attempts to portray Pillay as a proactive and principled human rights campaigner, successfully advocating for democratic and humanitarian changes around the globe:
But as Rubinstein and Dershowitz point out, Tunisia and Egypt were in fact members of the UN Human Rights Council and under Pillay, the body repeatedly ignored and sustained human rights abuses in these countries:Pillay sent experts to Tunisia to help shape democratic reforms and investigate past violations, and made it clear her office is ready to help elsewhere.
She denounced killings and abductions as they unfolded in Ivory Coast after a November 28 poll where U.N.-certified results show Alassane Ouattara beat incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.
On New Year's Eve, she went a step further, publicly warning Gbagbo and top commanders they may be held accountable for human rights crimes. She flagged reports of two mass graves at the time and allegations of a third one since.
Pillay has blamed unprecedented protests in Egypt squarely on the government of President Hosni Mubarak, accusing it of serious abuses including widespread torture.
"People have a right to protest, and freedom of information is especially important at times like these," she said in an appeal for calm as one million people took to the streets.
The international criminal justice system now provides the tools to ensure that perpetrators are held to account, according to the former U.N. war crimes judge.
In a statement on Friday, ahead of visits this month to Israel, the occupied territories and Russia, she warned:
"We now see there is an intense hunger for human rights in the Middle East and North Africa -- and of course in other countries in other regions. Governments who ignore these extremely loud and clear warning signals are doing so at their own peril."
Only in the 25th paragraph of her 26-paragraph story does Nebehay offer a hint of the endemic bias underlying the activities of the Council (which has devoted one-third of its resolutions to condemning the only democracy in the Middle East) and the ideology driving that bias:In its reports, along with mild criticism, the commission complimented both regimes: Tunisia was praised for building “a legal and constitutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights,” and Egypt was lauded for initiatives “taken in recent years as regards human rights, in particular the creation of human rights divisions within the ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs.” (Reading these excerpts, one may be forgiven for thinking that the true demonstration should take place in Geneva, seat of the Human Rights Commission.
The 47-member forum is dominated by developing countries often backed by China, Cuba and Russia. Critics say the council unfairly focuses on Israel and its alleged violations.
Navi and the Council thank you for your vote of confidence, Stephanie.Pillay, who succeeded Canadian Louise Arbour in September 2008, is the fifth High Commissioner since the post was set up in 1994. It is not yet clear whether the 69-year-old will seek a second four-year term or be nominated by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.