The UN, where rights abusers get to be on the human rights council

It would be a sufficiently damning indictment of the United Nations that on the 75th anniversary of the global body’s founding, the state of international multilateralism is in utter disarray and mass murderers, war criminals and their torture states enjoy almost total impunity from the reach of international law. But it gets worse.

Headquartered in the pleasant surroundings of the Palais des Nations overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the UN Human Rights Council, which replaced the thoroughly discredited UN Commission on Human Rights 14 years ago, has become as comfortable and welcoming as its predecessor was for many of the worst human rights abusers on the face of the earth.

The 43rd session of the UNHRC is underway here this week. Among the council’s many dodgy members for 2020, for instance, are Pakistan, Libya, Qatar, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan and Venezuela.

The Pakistani penal code provides for the death penalty to punish “blasphemers,” and Pakistan permits forced conversions. Only two months ago, a panel of the UNHRC’s own rapporteurs condemned Pakistan’s courts for a Dec. 21 death sentence handed down in the case of Bahauddin Zakariya University lecturer Junaid Hafeez, who has been in solitary confinement ever since he was charged with blasphemy in 2013. Only two weeks ago a Pakistani high court ruling validated the abduction and forced marriage of a 14-year-old Christian girl on the grounds that she’d already had her first period and was fair game.


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