News / Middle East

Navi Pillay Scolds UN Security Council for Inaction on Global Crises

Outgoing U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay talks during an interview to Reuters in her office in Geneva, Aug. 19, 2014.
Outgoing U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay talks during an interview to Reuters in her office in Geneva, Aug. 19, 2014.
Margaret Besheer

Outgoing U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay has scolded the United Nations Security Council for its lack of action on some of the world’s most serious crises, saying hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved through greater council responsiveness.  

Pillay, a former South African jurist will wrap up a six-year tenure as the top U.N. human rights official at the end of this month.

Known for her outspokenness on topics ranging from the conflict in Syria to gay rights, in her final briefing, Pillay spoke of crises around the world, from the Middle East to Africa to the Ukraine.

"None of these crises erupted without warning," she said. "They built up over years, and sometimes decades, of human rights grievances: deficient or corrupt governance and judicial institutions; discrimination and exclusion; inequities in development; exploitation and denial of economic and social rights; and repression of civil society and public freedoms."

Pillay said early detection mechanisms repeatedly warned of these potential crises.

“So although the specifics of each crisis could not necessarily be predicted, many of the human rights violations that were at their core were known. They could have been addressed,” she said.

On the more than three-year war in Syria, Pillay warned the conflict is spreading outward and its eventual limits cannot be predicted.

She said such crises highlight the full cost of the international community's failure to prevent conflict.  Pillay said it is first the state’s duty to protect its citizens, but when it fails, the Security Council must act.

"But when governments are unable or unwilling to protect their people, it is the responsibility of the international community and, singularly, this council to intervene, and to deploy the range of good offices, support, inducements and coercion at its disposal to defuse the triggers of conflict," she said.

In an apparent reference to the lack of consensus among council members on issues such as Syria, she said short-term geopolitical concerns and narrowly defined national interests have repeatedly taken priority over ending human suffering.

“I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Pillay said.

During Thursday’s meeting, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to  Pillay, saying she has been an “outstanding United Nations leader” who “tells it like she sees it.” Ban said people who face discrimination and rights abuses know Pillay is their advocate and she will continue to be a key voice for human rights.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
August 22, 2014 6:47 AM
Looking back is inexcusable that the international community did not do your duty Stop the War in World


by: Amos
August 21, 2014 11:14 PM
Navi Pillay has inexplicably wavered so much on the Zimbabwean issue, like Gukhurahundi (which cost 20,000 lives), The 2008 Elections, Marumbatsvina, Land seizures, the list is endless. As a jurist she knows the situation there very well, but the real question to be asked is "what has she said on these issues". The UN Security Council has not "acted" and only in specific instances, has the West acted with resolution
in Europe and the Middle East, perhaps because the threat has
immense repercussions for them including the humanitarian aspect, which would condemn them if they failed to act.


by: Mark from: Virginia
August 21, 2014 2:01 PM
I fully agree with Navi Pillay on this...the UN is supposed to be the one and ONLY world's policeman, and the world cop has been spending far too much time at the all-night diner drinking coffee and eating donuts and arguing with itself.

But then, at the core of it all... if the countries that represent the UN do not agree with each other, then we see the fruits of that labor (nothing). Much like Congress here in the U.S. the UN bickers over political and ideological nonsense and forget its true purpose.. to serve the world and protect the citizens of all countries. It is largely why the League of Nations failed so utterly after World War I, and why the United Nations is failing as well. No one gets along, and no one cares about anything but themselves.

When everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) realizes that we are all the same, that we all came from the same well spring of Life, and put aside our petty differences, then the world will know Peace. Until then, all we will know is suffering and misery and death. It starts with each of us.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid