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 Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid