the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

June 17, 2005

Tortured Logic


Today the House passed Henry Hyde’s bill withholding half of US dues payments to the United Nations unless the UN shapes up. Fortunately, the bill is not likely to get anywhere in the Senate and is opposed by the White House (perhaps Rumsfeld has been talking to Bush about his lack of diplomatic skill).

The bill includes this text (in §201):

(b) Human Rights Reforms at the United Nations — The President shall direct the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations to ensure that the following human rights reforms have been adopted by the United Nations:

(1) A Member State that fails to uphold the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights shall be ineligible for membership on any United Nations human rights body.

Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Article 9 says, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” Other articles talk about the presumption of innocence and the right to “a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal”. In today’s world, if an American ambassador stands up before the UN and argues that some other country can’t be on the Human Rights Commission because of violations of the UDHR, the reaction will be snickering.

Now I’m as much opposed as the Republicans are to having human rights violators on the UN Commission on Human Rights, but it seems to me that they’d be in a much better position to be taken seriously when they lecture others if they put a little effort into cleaning up this country’s own behavior.
If they really care about human rights, they should support investigating the abuses, pass legislation to stop extraordinary rendition, and prevent the administration from using torture and mistreating prisoners in the future. Eventually we’d be able to remove the stain that the Bush administration has put on the country and return to being a leader in human rights and supporting what the United States is supposed to stand for.

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DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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