News / Middle East

Amnesty Says UN Security Council 'Unfit for Purpose'

UN Security Council meeting (file photo)UN Security Council meeting (file photo)
x
UN Security Council meeting (file photo)
UN Security Council meeting (file photo)
Selah Hennessy
LONDON - "Failed leadership has gone global" -- according to Amnesty International's annual report on the state of human rights around the world. The United Nations Security Council is receiving the most focused criticism in the report that was published late Wednesday.

Amnesty International describes 2011 as having been a tumultuous year.  On the plus side, it says, millions of people took to the streets to demand their rights -- and some secured victories.  Most notably, the report says, in the Middle East and North Africa, popular movements threatened or even swept away governments that had "ruled with an iron fist."

But Amnesty says the hard work of the people was not matched by strong leadership at the national or international level.

Amnesty's London-based senior director of International Law and Policy, Widney Brown, says politicians have repeatedly responded to protests with brutality.  And at an international level, she says alliances and financial interests have driven policy -- rather than human rights.

"Governments are willing to promote it when the country that they are being critical of either has no power or has no strategic importance to them.  And at the same time are totally willing to bend the rules when it does," Brown said.

What is more, the Amnesty report says, the U.N. Security Council has shown itself to be tired, out of step and "unfit for purpose."

It says inaction over alleged abuses in Sri Lanka and Syria made the Security Council look redundant.

"Our concern is that the U.N. Security Council is charged with protecting international peace and security and yet in a case like Syria, where civilians are clearly being targeted, they basically chose not to act and when they did finally act, it was quite weak," Brown said.

China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are permanent members of the Security Council.

Brown says these countries are also major arms exporters, a situation that can create a conflict of financial interest.

"Of the top six arms dealers in the world, five of those top six are permanent members of the Security Council.  And there is a certain irony in the fact that the governments charged with international peace and security in fact are major arms dealers," Brown said.

Amnesty used the 2012 report to highlight the global arms trade and call for a strong global arms-trade treaty later this year.  The treaty is set to be negotiated at a global conference in New York during the month of July.

Amnesty Arms Control Manager Brian Woods says if there is a risk that arms exported to another country could contribute to human-rights abuses, then those supplies should be stopped.  He says a global treaty is the only way to make that work.

"Wherever we go and say look you should not have sent those arms to country 'X' or 'Y,' people will say, 'Oh yeah, but if we did not send them somebody else would.'  Governments say that to us, companies say it, so there is no way you can tackle this problem unless you have a level playing field at a pretty high level for all countries," Woods said.

Amnesty International Report 2012 looks at the state of human rights in 155 countries and territories.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More