USA judged on human rights

President Bush refused to allow the United States to be dragged before the United Nations Human Rights Council, but President Obama has reversed that policy.  So the United States was hauled before the Human Rights Council, currently chaired by Cuba, to answer for its alleged human rights violations:

A delegation of top officials, led by Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer, gave diplomats at the U.N. Human Rights Council a detailed account of U.S. human rights shortcomings and the Obama administration’s efforts to redress them. It marked the first time the United States has subjected its rights record to examination before the Geneva-based council as part of a procedure that requires all states to allow their counterparts to grade their conduct.

Several delegations camped out overnight to be first in line to criticize Washington, with the initial few speakers including Cuba, Iran and Venezuela.

The administration has engaged in an intensive effort, including holding town hall meetings with Muslims, Native Americans, African Americans and other minority groups, to assess the extent of domestic rights violations. In August, it gave the U.N. rights council a 22-page report documenting U.S. abuses, including practices by federal and local police and corrections and immigration officials, and defending President Obama’s counterterrorism policies. Friday’s meeting provided the first opportunity for states to comment on the report. . . .

The United States’ most vociferous critics – Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea and Venezuela – opened the session with a string of highly critical accounts of U.S. policies, denouncing detention policies from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay and characterizing the embargo on Cuba as an act of genocide.

The tone struck by succeeding speakers was more restrained. But even Washington’s closest friends found fault with some of its policies. Many urged the United States to suspend the death penalty, with the ultimate goal of abolishing the practice, and to ratify international treaties aimed at protecting the rights of women and children.

China and Russia, two major powers with poor rights records but important relations with the United States, acknowledged U.S. advances in human rights, citing efforts to expand health care. But China, which has brutally repressed its own ethnic minorities, criticized U.S. law enforcement officials for using “excessive force against racial minorities.”

Germany’s envoy scolded some of America’s most strident critics. “We have noted with interest that some of the states which are on the first places of today’s speakers list had spared no effort to be the first to speak on the U.S.,” said Germany’s delegate, Konrad Scharinger. “We would hope that those states will show the same level of commitment when it comes to improving their human rights record at home.”

via U.S. offers its human rights record for U.N. review.

We hold other countries, including many of those on this panel, to human rights standards. Shouldn’t we submit to the same medicine? Or is this exercise inherently bogus?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Porcell

    The United States’ most vociferous critics – Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea and Venezuela – opened the session with a string of highly critical accounts of U.S. policies, denouncing detention policies from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay and characterizing the embargo on Cuba as an act of genocide.

    How utterly laughable and predictable. All of these countries routinely throw political dissidents in jail and slaughter some of them. Chalk this up as another of Obama’s foolish moves on the world stage to pander to ideological leftist hypocrites.

  • Porcell

    The United States’ most vociferous critics – Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea and Venezuela – opened the session with a string of highly critical accounts of U.S. policies, denouncing detention policies from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay and characterizing the embargo on Cuba as an act of genocide.

    How utterly laughable and predictable. All of these countries routinely throw political dissidents in jail and slaughter some of them. Chalk this up as another of Obama’s foolish moves on the world stage to pander to ideological leftist hypocrites.

  • Kirk

    I think that since we are participating in the UN, it’s important that we submit ourselves to the same moral principles that we hold other nations to. Unfortunately, the HRC, like Porcell says, is laughable. The fact that it’s chaired by Cuba and includes to the like of North Korea shows how utterly impotent it is. However, seeing as it is a complete exercise in futility, can any harm really come of it?

  • Kirk

    I think that since we are participating in the UN, it’s important that we submit ourselves to the same moral principles that we hold other nations to. Unfortunately, the HRC, like Porcell says, is laughable. The fact that it’s chaired by Cuba and includes to the like of North Korea shows how utterly impotent it is. However, seeing as it is a complete exercise in futility, can any harm really come of it?

  • ELB

    The whole thing is absurd at its premise. The UN with its humanist foundation only acknowledges some sort of “sociological consensus” as a basis of moral judgment, and then trumps that with whoever has the political clout of the moment.

  • ELB

    The whole thing is absurd at its premise. The UN with its humanist foundation only acknowledges some sort of “sociological consensus” as a basis of moral judgment, and then trumps that with whoever has the political clout of the moment.

  • Cincinnatus

    There is no such thing as a “human right,” so this seems to be a bad exercise, regardless of whether it’s utterly futile in terms of its consequences.

  • Cincinnatus

    There is no such thing as a “human right,” so this seems to be a bad exercise, regardless of whether it’s utterly futile in terms of its consequences.

  • Joe

    Kirk asks, “However, seeing as it is a complete exercise in futility, can any harm really come of it?”

    Yes. People could take it seriously and we could start attempting to change our domestic policies to accommodate the findings of such a panel. That harm can come from it. The very fact that we have let ourselves be judged by this panel gives it a certain level legitimacy that it did not have before.

  • Joe

    Kirk asks, “However, seeing as it is a complete exercise in futility, can any harm really come of it?”

    Yes. People could take it seriously and we could start attempting to change our domestic policies to accommodate the findings of such a panel. That harm can come from it. The very fact that we have let ourselves be judged by this panel gives it a certain level legitimacy that it did not have before.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Laughable. The U.N. seems to me a perpetual joke.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Laughable. The U.N. seems to me a perpetual joke.

  • S Bauer

    After all, we Americans have never marginalized, dispossessed, taken advantage of or blown up anyone except with the best of intentions – to take and keep what we got. Nor are we now. There is no reason for us to be answerable to anyone for anything (kind of like the laity not being allowed to question anything that the clergy does).

    And, of course, if there are nations using the idea of accountability to distort who we really are and demonize us, the only response left to us is to distort our record in the opposite direction and tell the world there’s nothing here to apologize for or to change.

  • S Bauer

    After all, we Americans have never marginalized, dispossessed, taken advantage of or blown up anyone except with the best of intentions – to take and keep what we got. Nor are we now. There is no reason for us to be answerable to anyone for anything (kind of like the laity not being allowed to question anything that the clergy does).

    And, of course, if there are nations using the idea of accountability to distort who we really are and demonize us, the only response left to us is to distort our record in the opposite direction and tell the world there’s nothing here to apologize for or to change.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Is it me, or are most people here buying into an ad hominem fallacy? “They can’t possibly tell us we have human rights issues! Why, they have human rights issues themselves! Therefore, their argument is rendered null and void!”

    And, of course, those other countries can employ the exact same logic as to why they should ignore our critiques of them. Which … gets us nowhere.

    I’m not saying their critiques are correct. But to dismiss them merely because they come from a country you don’t like at some level is hardly to reply to their critiques. It’s the equivalent of plugging up your ears and yelling “LALALA I can’t hear you!”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Is it me, or are most people here buying into an ad hominem fallacy? “They can’t possibly tell us we have human rights issues! Why, they have human rights issues themselves! Therefore, their argument is rendered null and void!”

    And, of course, those other countries can employ the exact same logic as to why they should ignore our critiques of them. Which … gets us nowhere.

    I’m not saying their critiques are correct. But to dismiss them merely because they come from a country you don’t like at some level is hardly to reply to their critiques. It’s the equivalent of plugging up your ears and yelling “LALALA I can’t hear you!”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@8), “There is no such thing as a ‘human right’”? So … your entire critique of this scenario is a semantic one involving the name of the particular committee involved?

    And the accusations that are made by this committee — they do not exist, is that correct? Because there’s no such thing as a “human right”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@8), “There is no such thing as a ‘human right’”? So … your entire critique of this scenario is a semantic one involving the name of the particular committee involved?

    And the accusations that are made by this committee — they do not exist, is that correct? Because there’s no such thing as a “human right”?

  • Porcell

    Todd, it’s not that we don’t like these countries listed above at 1; it’s simply that all of them have exceedingly poor human rights records. Iran and Cuba lecturing the U.S. on its poor human rights record. Absurd.

    Reading through the twenty-two page State Department record of U.S. human rights, one finds essentially a needless and wordy defense of America’s overall excellent record on human rights.

  • Porcell

    Todd, it’s not that we don’t like these countries listed above at 1; it’s simply that all of them have exceedingly poor human rights records. Iran and Cuba lecturing the U.S. on its poor human rights record. Absurd.

    Reading through the twenty-two page State Department record of U.S. human rights, one finds essentially a needless and wordy defense of America’s overall excellent record on human rights.

  • DonS

    There are two problems with participating in a forum like this (at least!). One is that you in any way legitimize tyrants and torturers such as Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela. The very idea that Cuba would be chairing a human rights council is clearly absurd.

    A second problem is that such countries, which have no apparent regard for human life, at least those lives which are inconvenient to their aims and objectives, have no reasonable basis for establishing human rights standards or applying them in evaluating U.S. conduct. It’s just a propaganda exercise, and a very stupid one for us to engage in.

  • DonS

    There are two problems with participating in a forum like this (at least!). One is that you in any way legitimize tyrants and torturers such as Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela. The very idea that Cuba would be chairing a human rights council is clearly absurd.

    A second problem is that such countries, which have no apparent regard for human life, at least those lives which are inconvenient to their aims and objectives, have no reasonable basis for establishing human rights standards or applying them in evaluating U.S. conduct. It’s just a propaganda exercise, and a very stupid one for us to engage in.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@9:

    That’s exactly what I mean. We can’t be tried for violating something that doesn’t exist. I don’t believe in human rights. They don’t exist and they never have. They’re a mental creation of the Enlightenment, and I assure you that I can make an argument that they’ve done more harm than good for the world (though such an argument would be too long for this format, I warrant).

    And don’t be silly: no one is saying that America is a spotless lamb who has never harmed or exploited anyone or any people in its entire history. But it is, in fact, a legitimate critique of the Court to note that its legitimacy is tarnished just a tad by the fact that its members include Iran, Venezuala, and Cuba. I mean, really? Is that a serious objection you’re raising, tODD?

    And to Kirk: yes, in fact, there is a problem in participating in something that is worthless and futile. Why would we want to legitimize something like that? By acknowledging its reality and potential sovereignty, it’s not so futile and silly any longer, am I right?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@9:

    That’s exactly what I mean. We can’t be tried for violating something that doesn’t exist. I don’t believe in human rights. They don’t exist and they never have. They’re a mental creation of the Enlightenment, and I assure you that I can make an argument that they’ve done more harm than good for the world (though such an argument would be too long for this format, I warrant).

    And don’t be silly: no one is saying that America is a spotless lamb who has never harmed or exploited anyone or any people in its entire history. But it is, in fact, a legitimate critique of the Court to note that its legitimacy is tarnished just a tad by the fact that its members include Iran, Venezuala, and Cuba. I mean, really? Is that a serious objection you’re raising, tODD?

    And to Kirk: yes, in fact, there is a problem in participating in something that is worthless and futile. Why would we want to legitimize something like that? By acknowledging its reality and potential sovereignty, it’s not so futile and silly any longer, am I right?

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, the Enlightenment concept of human rights has been within reason a good thing. Sure, concepts don’t have a hard physical reality, though right ones can have a powerful influence. Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, the document that solidified fundamental rights in America, had an enormous influence.

    Of course rights need to be coupled with responsibilities and are not absolute.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, the Enlightenment concept of human rights has been within reason a good thing. Sure, concepts don’t have a hard physical reality, though right ones can have a powerful influence. Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, the document that solidified fundamental rights in America, had an enormous influence.

    Of course rights need to be coupled with responsibilities and are not absolute.

  • Porcell

    Jennifer Rubin in a Commentary Contentions article, Human Rights Policy Gone Mad nails this as follows:

    There is no better example of the cul-de-sac of leftist anti-Americanism — that insatiable need to paint the U.S. as the source of evil in the world — than Obama’s human rights policy, which is, quite simply, obscene. The bipartisan revulsion at this policy is the regrettable but reassuring result. At least there remains a strong consensus rejecting the idea that cooling tensions with despots is more important than robustly defending our own values and the lives and rights of oppressed peoples around the world.

  • Porcell

    Jennifer Rubin in a Commentary Contentions article, Human Rights Policy Gone Mad nails this as follows:

    There is no better example of the cul-de-sac of leftist anti-Americanism — that insatiable need to paint the U.S. as the source of evil in the world — than Obama’s human rights policy, which is, quite simply, obscene. The bipartisan revulsion at this policy is the regrettable but reassuring result. At least there remains a strong consensus rejecting the idea that cooling tensions with despots is more important than robustly defending our own values and the lives and rights of oppressed peoples around the world.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@12), help me understand. You state unequivocally that human rights “don’t exist”. And then go on to discuss “harming or exploiting” humans. Is it possible to harm or exploit humans? If so, is it wrong? And if it is, then I want to ask once more if this is solely a semantic issue for you. After all, you lambast the court for having “Iran, Venezuala, and Cuba” as its members — but on what grounds? Certainly not on the grounds that they violate human rights, for you believe in no such thing!

    “It is, in fact, a legitimate critique of the Court to note that its legitimacy is tarnished just a tad.” Indeed. That is a legitimate critique of the Court itself. My point was that that is not a legitimate critique of the accusations lobbed at us by “Iran, Venezuala, and Cuba”, among others. Those accusations hit or miss entirely on their own merits, not on the merits of those making them.

    “And don’t be silly: no one is saying that America is a spotless lamb who has never harmed or exploited anyone or any people in its entire history.” Why hello, Straw Man!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@12), help me understand. You state unequivocally that human rights “don’t exist”. And then go on to discuss “harming or exploiting” humans. Is it possible to harm or exploit humans? If so, is it wrong? And if it is, then I want to ask once more if this is solely a semantic issue for you. After all, you lambast the court for having “Iran, Venezuala, and Cuba” as its members — but on what grounds? Certainly not on the grounds that they violate human rights, for you believe in no such thing!

    “It is, in fact, a legitimate critique of the Court to note that its legitimacy is tarnished just a tad.” Indeed. That is a legitimate critique of the Court itself. My point was that that is not a legitimate critique of the accusations lobbed at us by “Iran, Venezuala, and Cuba”, among others. Those accusations hit or miss entirely on their own merits, not on the merits of those making them.

    “And don’t be silly: no one is saying that America is a spotless lamb who has never harmed or exploited anyone or any people in its entire history.” Why hello, Straw Man!

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Isn’t this akin to submitting ourselves to those techniques of ‘self critique’ used by the Communists, wherein they would gather groups of peers together and make them confess to each other their ‘failures’ in their duty to the state?

    To submit ourselves to the judgment of killers and tyrants is stupid. The whole thing reeks of b*&%$#)t

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Isn’t this akin to submitting ourselves to those techniques of ‘self critique’ used by the Communists, wherein they would gather groups of peers together and make them confess to each other their ‘failures’ in their duty to the state?

    To submit ourselves to the judgment of killers and tyrants is stupid. The whole thing reeks of b*&%$#)t

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: I shall explain. This court and this discussion is a perfect example of why “rights talk” is dangerous and unproductive. I personally prefer to speak in terms of mutual, reciprocating duties and obligations, and I think that is a more “Christian” way of looking at it (i.e., the focus should not be on what others owe to us but what we owe to one another).

    But that’s a moot point for now. There are “rights” in our contemporary political condition, but they are fictitious constructs dependent upon a constitutionally limited government willing to preserve them and an organic cultural milieu that has developed over time that possesses the habits and the capacity to recognize, exercise, and sustain rights through praxis. Thus, there are “rights of Englishmen” (shared by Americans) situated in a particular cultural context and enshrined in particular constitutions and codes. They do not apply to everyone. There is no such thing as a “human right” because such a signifier signifies nothing. It is purely abstract. Rights must be enshrined in institutions and they can only be had in “responsible” cultures. And yes, this does imply that “rights” can vary from one nation to the next (though I would urge that some rights and rights-culture are “better” than others, objectively speaking).

    Therefore, allow me to make what will (to many academics at least) appear to be an ethnocentric and hubristic (but nonetheless true) statement: Cubans, Venezualans, and Iranians have not developed the customs and constitutional structures necessarily prerequisite to something like “Cuban” rights. They are ruled by despots (a neutral word meaning an arbitrary sovereign who rules with or without the people’s interests in mind; either way, there is no “exercise” of rights by the people). They have no prerogative to sit in judgment over our rights because they are our rights and ours alone. Moreover, they have no rights of their own, so they don’t even know what they’re talking about. Of course, this “cuts both ways”: it also means that we, a mature, rights-based society, cannot simply transplant or impose our peculiar constitutional structures and rights-codes upon other cultures which have more than likely failed (so far) to develop organically the responsibility and mores necessary to sustain rights in the first place.

    But your second question asks something entirely different. It is possible to “harm” someone (the population, for instance) without bringing rights into the equation. But how does a person make a legitimate claim against such violence? Well, he can’t very well appeal to something imaginary (i.e., “human rights”). He can only appeal to something real and particular, the rights due to an American citizen; the Western nation-states have been doing something similar for about 800 years. “Human dignity”? Yeah, maybe. But what is that? The government, after all, bears the sword not in vain. The problem is when it acts “arbitrarily.” But how can we determine arbitrariness without a standard of normality against which to compare it?

    So the problem is twofold: How dare immature, despotic nations pretend to sit in judgment on our rights! Conversely, how dare we allow our rights to be subject to a court that shouldn’t exist, that pretends to call into question something we (and only we!) have earned and that only we (i.e., the American people) are permitted to arbitrate.

    This is only a taste of a complex discussion, but you should at least see where I stand on the question.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: I shall explain. This court and this discussion is a perfect example of why “rights talk” is dangerous and unproductive. I personally prefer to speak in terms of mutual, reciprocating duties and obligations, and I think that is a more “Christian” way of looking at it (i.e., the focus should not be on what others owe to us but what we owe to one another).

    But that’s a moot point for now. There are “rights” in our contemporary political condition, but they are fictitious constructs dependent upon a constitutionally limited government willing to preserve them and an organic cultural milieu that has developed over time that possesses the habits and the capacity to recognize, exercise, and sustain rights through praxis. Thus, there are “rights of Englishmen” (shared by Americans) situated in a particular cultural context and enshrined in particular constitutions and codes. They do not apply to everyone. There is no such thing as a “human right” because such a signifier signifies nothing. It is purely abstract. Rights must be enshrined in institutions and they can only be had in “responsible” cultures. And yes, this does imply that “rights” can vary from one nation to the next (though I would urge that some rights and rights-culture are “better” than others, objectively speaking).

    Therefore, allow me to make what will (to many academics at least) appear to be an ethnocentric and hubristic (but nonetheless true) statement: Cubans, Venezualans, and Iranians have not developed the customs and constitutional structures necessarily prerequisite to something like “Cuban” rights. They are ruled by despots (a neutral word meaning an arbitrary sovereign who rules with or without the people’s interests in mind; either way, there is no “exercise” of rights by the people). They have no prerogative to sit in judgment over our rights because they are our rights and ours alone. Moreover, they have no rights of their own, so they don’t even know what they’re talking about. Of course, this “cuts both ways”: it also means that we, a mature, rights-based society, cannot simply transplant or impose our peculiar constitutional structures and rights-codes upon other cultures which have more than likely failed (so far) to develop organically the responsibility and mores necessary to sustain rights in the first place.

    But your second question asks something entirely different. It is possible to “harm” someone (the population, for instance) without bringing rights into the equation. But how does a person make a legitimate claim against such violence? Well, he can’t very well appeal to something imaginary (i.e., “human rights”). He can only appeal to something real and particular, the rights due to an American citizen; the Western nation-states have been doing something similar for about 800 years. “Human dignity”? Yeah, maybe. But what is that? The government, after all, bears the sword not in vain. The problem is when it acts “arbitrarily.” But how can we determine arbitrariness without a standard of normality against which to compare it?

    So the problem is twofold: How dare immature, despotic nations pretend to sit in judgment on our rights! Conversely, how dare we allow our rights to be subject to a court that shouldn’t exist, that pretends to call into question something we (and only we!) have earned and that only we (i.e., the American people) are permitted to arbitrate.

    This is only a taste of a complex discussion, but you should at least see where I stand on the question.

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, I seem to have stifled the conversation. My bad?

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, I seem to have stifled the conversation. My bad?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@17), I live on the West Coast and had Bible study last night. Gimme some time to respond!

    First of all, your argument seems to ignore the fact that The UN exists, and we’ve signed on to its tenets, and so on. Doubtless, you wish none of that were true, but given that it is, haven’t we as a nation signed on, by treaty, to the ideas that you now say don’t exist? You seem to be arguing that the solution is not to submit our record for review to this council, but for consistency, shouldn’t your position be that we withdraw from the whole shebang, period, the end? I don’t understand your narrow focus here.

    As long as we are members of the United Nations, I don’t think we can simultaneously claim that “they are our rights and ours alone”.

    I also believe that none of this precludes the ability of other nations to note our own hypocrisy — that is, when we fail to live up to our own standards. That they might also be hypocrites in so doing does not mean they are not right.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@17), I live on the West Coast and had Bible study last night. Gimme some time to respond!

    First of all, your argument seems to ignore the fact that The UN exists, and we’ve signed on to its tenets, and so on. Doubtless, you wish none of that were true, but given that it is, haven’t we as a nation signed on, by treaty, to the ideas that you now say don’t exist? You seem to be arguing that the solution is not to submit our record for review to this council, but for consistency, shouldn’t your position be that we withdraw from the whole shebang, period, the end? I don’t understand your narrow focus here.

    As long as we are members of the United Nations, I don’t think we can simultaneously claim that “they are our rights and ours alone”.

    I also believe that none of this precludes the ability of other nations to note our own hypocrisy — that is, when we fail to live up to our own standards. That they might also be hypocrites in so doing does not mean they are not right.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Why yes, I would advocate full withdrawal from the “whole shebang.” On the other hand, we wouldn’t have to in order to ignore and refuse to acknowledge to legitimacy of the Court of Human Rights. Such Courts are established by specific treaties, etc., and the United States has a (salutary, in my opinion) of neglecting or refusing to sign those all the time. Accordingly, it’s only recently that we’ve begun to subject ourselves to the this particular court–which itself is a gigantic joke.

    The question of whether other nations are permitted or able to “note our own hypocrisy” is a different question altogether. They can do that all they wish if it makes them feel better. That’s a far cry from actually sitting in judgment upon and adjudicating our rights and our faithfulness to them. Such is little different than the United States determining (as we have) that Iraq had no respect for “human” rights or democracy, and that thus we (and/or the global community) possessed a prerogative to, erm, give it to them.

    No we don’t, and no they don’t.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Why yes, I would advocate full withdrawal from the “whole shebang.” On the other hand, we wouldn’t have to in order to ignore and refuse to acknowledge to legitimacy of the Court of Human Rights. Such Courts are established by specific treaties, etc., and the United States has a (salutary, in my opinion) of neglecting or refusing to sign those all the time. Accordingly, it’s only recently that we’ve begun to subject ourselves to the this particular court–which itself is a gigantic joke.

    The question of whether other nations are permitted or able to “note our own hypocrisy” is a different question altogether. They can do that all they wish if it makes them feel better. That’s a far cry from actually sitting in judgment upon and adjudicating our rights and our faithfulness to them. Such is little different than the United States determining (as we have) that Iraq had no respect for “human” rights or democracy, and that thus we (and/or the global community) possessed a prerogative to, erm, give it to them.

    No we don’t, and no they don’t.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@20), you said, “Such Courts are established by specific treaties, etc., and the United States has a (salutary, in my opinion) [history? --tODD] of neglecting or refusing to sign those all the time.”

    Sorry, but you appear to be confusing the Human Rights Council, the topic of discussion here, with some actual international court. It is not. It is — and forgive me for relying on Wikipedia here — “a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly”, which we are part of, as I understand it, by treaty. Not a court- or council-specific treaty, just the basic General Assembly one.

    “That’s a far cry from actually sitting in judgment upon and adjudicating our rights and our faithfulness to them.” Again, this isn’t a court. They’re not “actually … adjudicating” anything, are they? As I understand it, their power is more or less limited to issuing reports that may or may not criticize us.

    If I’m wrong in any of this, let me know — it’s obviously not something I know much about.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@20), you said, “Such Courts are established by specific treaties, etc., and the United States has a (salutary, in my opinion) [history? --tODD] of neglecting or refusing to sign those all the time.”

    Sorry, but you appear to be confusing the Human Rights Council, the topic of discussion here, with some actual international court. It is not. It is — and forgive me for relying on Wikipedia here — “a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly”, which we are part of, as I understand it, by treaty. Not a court- or council-specific treaty, just the basic General Assembly one.

    “That’s a far cry from actually sitting in judgment upon and adjudicating our rights and our faithfulness to them.” Again, this isn’t a court. They’re not “actually … adjudicating” anything, are they? As I understand it, their power is more or less limited to issuing reports that may or may not criticize us.

    If I’m wrong in any of this, let me know — it’s obviously not something I know much about.

  • Cincinnatus

    Ah, fair enough: I was mentally and mistakenly hybridizing this Council with something like this, an institution that does at least pretend to have enforceable powers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter-American_Court_of_Human_Rights

    I think America still refuses to subscribe to the latter (and thank God).

    However, this doesn’t change the substance of my argument, I don’t believe. I can simply refer you back to the majority of my comment @17. And thus I still oppose our participation in this farcical display, though obviously not so much as I would were it an actual Court.

  • Cincinnatus

    Ah, fair enough: I was mentally and mistakenly hybridizing this Council with something like this, an institution that does at least pretend to have enforceable powers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter-American_Court_of_Human_Rights

    I think America still refuses to subscribe to the latter (and thank God).

    However, this doesn’t change the substance of my argument, I don’t believe. I can simply refer you back to the majority of my comment @17. And thus I still oppose our participation in this farcical display, though obviously not so much as I would were it an actual Court.

  • Louis

    Interesting discussion, Todd & Cincinnatus. On a theoretical level, I agree with Cincinnatus belief in the non-existence of human rights – I personally prefer the duties and obligations model, which is also why I think thet there is, at least in theory, a lot to be said for Feudalism, despite the negative connectations it has accumulated, some valid, a lot manufactured nonsense.

    That said, I also acknowledge Realpolitik. Thus I do not support abandoning the UN, but I also criticize the unwillingness of many to address the very obvious problems with the body, as this post so clearly highlights.

    Incidentally, Cincinnatus, since you mentioned “the Western nation-states have been doing something similar for about 800 years. ” – I have just read on the BBC that the kick of to the 800 Year celebration of the Magna Carta in 5 years time has started in the UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11735060

  • Louis

    Interesting discussion, Todd & Cincinnatus. On a theoretical level, I agree with Cincinnatus belief in the non-existence of human rights – I personally prefer the duties and obligations model, which is also why I think thet there is, at least in theory, a lot to be said for Feudalism, despite the negative connectations it has accumulated, some valid, a lot manufactured nonsense.

    That said, I also acknowledge Realpolitik. Thus I do not support abandoning the UN, but I also criticize the unwillingness of many to address the very obvious problems with the body, as this post so clearly highlights.

    Incidentally, Cincinnatus, since you mentioned “the Western nation-states have been doing something similar for about 800 years. ” – I have just read on the BBC that the kick of to the 800 Year celebration of the Magna Carta in 5 years time has started in the UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11735060

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