Now that John Bolton’s not there constantly reminding the UN how dysfunctional it is, it can be easy to forget, so here’s an end-of-year refresher in the form of the top 10 UN-believable moments of 2010.
Coming in at No. 10 is the resolution to “combat defamation of religions” only because the UN General Assembly hasn’t technically messed this up yet by voting for it, but it’s likely to, as it has since 2005 when the Danish cartoon controversy first scared the world into discouraging free speech in the name of one-sided tolerance. The resolution is likely to pass by a thinner margin this year than before, but it is still likely to pass. Only 20 of the Human Rights Council’s 47 countries backed the resolution, but supporters still constituted a plurality.
Backed by the 56-country Organization of the Islamic Conference, the secretary-general of the group describes the resolution’s intent thusly:
“We insist that freedom of expression should not be abused to insult others or condescend on other cultures,” said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. “This is the bottom line and we insist on this: dignity and honour are human rights. Every country has certain values that it considers sacred values. It can be their king, queen or flag that are the red lines. For us 1.5 billion people, our Prophet is a red line, and we ask others to respect that.”
The OIC features countries such as Pakistan and Iran that have their own problems respecting minority religions, but the resolution never mentions laws in Muslim countries that prevent or punish the practice of Christianity or Judaism. In this chart from a 2009 Pew study of international religious liberty, many supporters of the resolution are in the “restrictive” and “hostile” quadrant of the chart, while its detractors are considered hospitable to religious practice.
What could go wrong?
At No. 9, we have an anti-Semitic classic — good old-fashioned blood libel in a session of the Human Rights Council as a Syrian representative relates a charming story of Israeli children singing “merrily, as they go to school, ‘With my teeth, I will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood.’”
The U.S. government had a representative at this meeting who said nothing.
At No. 8, we have cheers for Hezbollah when Israel objects to Lebanon referring to it as a “Zionist entity on Palestinian territory.” Israel’s representative in the Human Rights Council calls the language “inappropriate and abusive,” and points to the existence of Hezbollah on the Lebanon/Israel border. The head of the Human Rights Council then allows Lebanon’s representative to interrupt saying, “If there was no occupation there would be no resistance, and the resistance of peoples against foreign occupation is a legitimate right.” The body erupts in applause.
No. 7: Have you ever wondered what it might look like if the U.S. subjected itself to a peer review of its human rights record by the world’s leading violators of human rights? The UN’s got you covered, and the Obama administration is honored to be there for it.
The Human Rights Council, which is now only 40 percent democratic, created a process in 2006 by which all members submit a report on their human rights records to the review of the council every four years. This year, Obama administration representatives Esther Brimmer and Michael Posner listened as Iran, North Korea, Egypt and China, among others, lectured the United States on its human rights record and history of racial discrimination.
WATCH: Mary Katharine Ham Presents: The top 10 UN-believable moments (VIDEO)