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

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora