United States has demeaned itself in conditioning full payment of UN arrears to regaining its position on UN Human Rights Commission

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The United States has demeaned itself in conditioning its final arrears payment to the United Nations  on regaining its position on the United Nations Human Rights Commission when the Republican-led House of Representatives yesterday  passed  the measure 252 in favor to 165 against - an insufferable act of arrogance stemming  from the belief that money counts for all rather than the ideals of justice, equality and freedom.

The United Statesí  unprecedented and  embarrassing discomfiture  in losing her  seat it held on the UN Human Rights Commission since 1947,  followed by  its ouster from the 13-member International Narcotics Control Board, should serve as notice of  growing frustration with America's attitude toward international organizations and treaties, as reflected by its  huge debt in overdue payments to the United Nations budget, the Bush administration's rejection of the Kyoto pact to reduce global warming and decision to develop a missile shield in violation of  the 1972 antiballistic missile treaty and to arms control in general.

The arrogance and insensitivity of the Bush administration in leaving the post of US ambassador to the United Nations vacant for nearly four months have contributed in no small measure to the US debacle.

This is no reason for Malaysia however to gloat at USís discomfiture or to construe it  as vindication of Malaysiaís human rights  policy and record, which had been the subject of criticism by the United States government.

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the US failure to secure a seat on the UN Human Rights Commission reflected the condition of US human rights record and that the US had not signed a few human rights convention over a period of time.

The United States should be faulted for the blemishes of its human rights record, in particular over the treatment of blacks by the police and the prisons.

These human rights failings, however, are not reason enough for the ouster of the United States from the Human Rights Commission - or blatant abusers of human rights would not have been elected into the Commission at all.

Concerns have been expressed by human rights activists and  groups that the Human Rights Commission  may degenerate into a  "a rogues' gallery of human rights abusers" - which would be a major setback for  human rights worldwide.

At home, Abdullah should initiate a study of the human rights conventions which have still not been signed and ratified by the Malaysian government, which should issue a report within a  month to state the government stand, together with the reasons, on each  international human rights convention which it is not prepared to endorse.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman