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The UN Human Rights Council should be abolished

After the decision of updating the Commission of Human Rights and establishing the UN Human Rights Council as an intergovermental body within the United Nations, the main objectives and principles set from the UNHRC itself were to make an improvement in the field of human rights violation and to prevent the same mistakes that the previous body made. The main problems included allowing countries with poor human right records to be members, and the fact that the UNCHR enabled members to cooperatively vote bloc important human rights resolutions, in order to protect the respect of their countries on international level, thereby hiding the fact that HR violations exist, and preventing the body from offering support.

Sadly, the expansions of this body – the Advisory Committee and Complaints Procedure methods, although supposed to make improvements in the quality of the body, made no significant difference in the final decision-making process and the development of new resolutions, since the problems of the previous body are still existing.

Foreign Policy’ Passport writes the following in a 2007 blog post: “In Geneva this week, any pretense of utility or fairness that clung to the United Nations Human Rights Council finally evaporated. By a decisive margin, the Council voted to end its examination of Iran and Uzbekistan despite worsening human rights records in both countries. Japan, South Korea, and Brazil were surprising votes in favor of the free passes; they had been supported more predictably by Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Azerbaijan.” What this proves is that despite the reforms, the councils final impact on the HR violations remains the same – serious issues from the worst human rights violators in the world are not given any attention.

We define abolish as putting an end to something, in this debate precisely putting an end to the work of the Human Rights Council. UNHRC is an intergovernmental body within the United Nations System that engages the United Nations’ Special Procedures. It is a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly which was constructed in order to make an improvement in terms of violations of human rights. In order to show that the council is making no progress and should be abolished, the proposition takes as a burden to prove that the current decision-making in the HRC does not lead to the acknowledgement and recognition of the human rights violation and that the HRC is not equally focused on all of the countries that face human rights violation, nor does it offer sufficient protection in regions where it is present. Because of these reasons, team proposition will prove that there are not significant changes from the Commission and no decrease of human rights abuse.

All the Yes points:

  1. Politicized decision-making process thwarts acknowledgement of human rights
  2. Disproportional and ineffective protection of human rights
  3. UNHRC kept the weaknesses of the Commission
  4. The existance of the current UNHRC harms human rights
  5. The UNHRC is a “leading sponsor of impunity for gross abuses worldwide”
  6. Too little too late
  7. Macedonia Summation

All the No points:

  1. The Council’s unique place in the UN and global Human Rights efforts
  2. Essential contribution to the global protection of human rights
  3. Encouraging dissemination of human rights ideals
  4. The political system of the UNHRC promotes Human Rights
  5. A serious look at Proposition’s logic
  6. The council’s goals and how it successfully achieves them
  7. Opposition Summary & Conclusion

Politicized decision-making process thwarts acknowledgement of human rights

Yes because…

UN Watch
In 2009, the UNHRC passed a resolution praising Sri Lanka, took no action on Iran and passed 18 resolutions counterproductive to human rights

The UNHRC fails to achieve its main goal – fostering and promoting human rights, due to its politicized decision-making. Despite the fact that the UNHRC resolution stated that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”, this body serves mostly as a tool used to cover up HR violations, thanks to the principle of bloc voting.

Some countries are not willing to have their HR violation stories exposed, therefore they cooperate with other countries which have these intentions as well, in order to create saliency of new public issues, thereby leaving serious violations unresolved. The phenomenon of bloc voting is confirmed by General Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary, who criticized them for not dropping rhetoric and bloc voting, instead of defending the citizens from getting abused. [[http://reut.rs/hKltAd]]

Numerous NGO’s and human rights organizations claim that the council is under control of a bloc of Islamic and African states, usually backed by China, Cuba and Russia (due to overwhelming majority), to achieve mutual protection from criticism.[[http://bit.ly/cKtJmr]] This results in cover ups of the violations in the countries, which never get to the specific procedures within the UNHRC. The citizens voices cannot be heard because of the governments protecting their reputation, and serious violations are neglected. The UNHRC cannot respond to individual complaints, conduct studies, provide advice, and engage in promotional activities if they do not pass the vote acknowledging HR violations in first place.

The impact of the voting-based decision-making, and absence of an objectively determined criteria when defining HR violation, is that the members are able to block HR violation, to achieve their interests.

No because…

There are several aspects related to what prop presents as “politicized decision-making”, we will briefly analyze each:

1. As long as the UNHRC does make efforts to advance HR issues, and succeeds as we prove in our points, then politicization in itself is not an issue that requires to abolish it.

2. Being a political council actually provides the UNHRC an advantage whereby it is being backed up politically by member states. All other HR bodies are either non-political, which means they do not enjoy the same level of backing the UNHRC enjoys, or even more political and cumbersome.

3. Prop claims a bloc backed by China, Cuba and Russia, but neglect the fact that all three will actually be rotated out of the UNHRC soon, in 2012. Therefore, any claimed bloc would only be a temporary matter, because there is a regular rotation of council member states.

Thus, there is little sense in the prop’s suggestion to use an irreversible act (abolish) to an issue which is reversible and temporary.

Prop itself hints at an alternative way around bloc voting, stating that there’s “absence of an objectively determined criteria when defining HR violation”, but this is certainly no reason to put an end to this important council. Rather, a criteria can be set by the same body that erected the UNHRC and elects its members – the General Assembly.

Quoting Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s criticism was somewhat out of context, since one of the main goals of his speech was to urge the US to join the UNHRC, which it finally did. Indeed US involvement in recent years has boosted the council’s performance[[http://is.gd/CCfpYW]]. Mr. Ki-moon then went on to make another important statement: “Ban stressed that the 47-state Council can play a tremendous role in improving human rights around the world.”[[http://is.gd/mppvfE]]

We at team opposition will prove in our points that UNHRC does play this tremendous role in looking after global HR issues.

Disproportional and ineffective protection of human rights

Yes because…

Presenting a substitute for the former UN Human Rights Commission, the UN Human Rights Council was constructed to make a platform for improvement in terms of the violation of the human right, and provide a clear monitor and analysis of the problem. However, the problem of unequal protection of human rights in different regions persists. The Israeli-Palestine issue had taken over one third of the capacity of the Council to manage issues and has recently increased to 48.1% [[http://bit.ly/f1EePk]]. This questions the ability of the UN Human Rights Council to manage severe issues in certain regions and shows how neglected other regions are. We agree that the issue at hand is a serious one, but there are too much resources focused on one region making it difficult for the Council to properly respond to the issues in other regions.

An appropriate example of neglect is the situation of Darfur [[http://bbc.in/ra1R58]] [[http://bit.ly/oUo01U]], where extreme violation upon ethnic groups, are escalating to the level of genocide. Due to severe HR violations international control, advisory and help in general is needed. The voting body of the Council has decided not to examine the situation or offer help despite of massive demonstrations demanding UN assistance. In this specific example, the UNHRC are going against their principles and objectives to protect any country in which violation appears [[http://bit.ly/11ELfu]].

Furthermore, the Council not only fails to acknowledge human rights violations in certain regions, but also fails at improving the situation in regions where it (the Council) is constantly present. The human rights situation in East Jerusalem is in a steep decline, Palestinian families are forcefully evicted to make place for Israeli settlements [[http://bit.ly/fvILc5]]. Whether a system of this kind is to be implemented in order to monitor and regulate any other region and advise an issue of this nature.

No because…

The UN doesn’t have the unlimited resources and attention to effectively find and deal with all possible HR violations all over the world. Therefore it makes much more sense, instead of spreading our resources too thin in a less effective manner, to focus on some of the issues and do a good job of dealing with them.

Even if we deal with only a relatively small number of violations, this could reflect on other violators who will know the UN is monitoring and acting firmly on HR issues.

The example given of Darfur actually strengthens the opposition case, since it demonstrates how even when a country is, as expected, making extensive efforts in all possible channels, to cover up their HR violations, the UNHRC’s mechanism eventually makes these efforts futile and indeed the prop should update that the UNHRC recently looked into the Darfur situation, as part of its periodic review mechanism.[[http://is.gd/m8UlsY]]

Regarding the East Jerusalem issue: prop’s burden, which was not met, is to prove that the UNHRC’s existence has exacerbated the situation. Actually, it would be more reasonable to assume that without the UNHRC, which does monitor the Israeli-Arab conflict very closely, there would have been even more violations. And we’ll add more on that in our points.

UNHRC kept the weaknesses of the Commission

Yes because…

The Human rights council has come under mounting criticism that it failed to secure human rights for the same reasons that the HR Committee did. The main reason why this body was considered ineffective was the limited ability to investigate human rights abuses around the world and because many of its members were considered to be in violation of human rights. Some of the members of the old commission were human rights abusers like China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia.[1] Yet we face a situation where current members in the UNHRC include China ,Russia, Pakistan and Cuba, states that are facing serious violation of human rights at the moment.[2][3] This creates a situation where countries with HR violations who win seats in the council can protect each other from inquiries.

This political nature of the committee was another reason why members put their preference for multilateral consensus ahead of their duty. As previously mention the UNHRC makes no changes in solving this problem due to the existing bloc voting[4]that enables the council to solve human rights abuses.

The committee was also criticized for it’s unwillingness to address real human rights concerns but rather focused only on Israel . The same mistake is being repeated by the council where 15% of the committee’s resolutions are focused on the Palestinian – Israel [5]problem and other problems are not being taken in consideration. [6]

Additionally, the newly implemented Advisory committee and complains procedure fail to deliver. The advisory committee [7] only makes recommendation on solving human rights abuses which are not being taken in consideration by the UNHRC because of the previously mentioned bloc voting. The complains procedure faces the same problem. Even if certain individuals have the right to report human rights abuses that doesn’t exclude the fact that the members still have the final word whether certain actions should be made in order to protect these individuals.

*Links in our 4th

No because…

The example given of the former UN HR committee, actually strongly supports the opposition case, since the mere fact that a similar body was erected right when the committee was abolished, inherently testifies to how essential such a body is. Therefore the last thing we would like to see is abolishing it. Even if there would have been a need for more reforms in its structure, the UNHRC is still indispensable in itself.

The UNHRC is a relatively young body that needs more time to mature, perhaps still dealing with leftover effects from its previous incarnation. Only recently the US decided to join, which provides extra balance and power, and marks a turning point for the council’s shaping as a global HR force, as can be seen in actual positive results.[[http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/03/159343.htm]]

Moreover, several mechanisms were installed, which differentiate the UNHRC from the previous committee:

1. Members are elected by the General Assembly, and can also be revoked by it. For example Lybia was expelled.[[http://is.gd/HbfBR2]]
The GA’s involvement also means that the council cannot protect its own members from expulsion, so that unlike the commission, the council won’t accept and can’t protect offending members for too long.

2. As we elaborate in out points, the regions and rotation systems of the UNHRC are major contributors to promoting global HR awareness and minimizing bloc voting.

3. Review mechanism: A seat in UNHRC places greater pressure on each member state to adhere to HR standards, knowing they are regularly monitored by the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism and required to fully cooperate with the review process.[[http://is.gd/3EmouM]]

This also means that spotlights are being drawn specifically to their HR issues, which in itself promotes more awareness or cautiousness on the part of that member state.

The existance of the current UNHRC harms human rights

Yes because…

With the previous arguments, the proposition managed to prove that the UNHRC is working ineffectively, through the politicized decision making process, the disproportional prioritizing of problems and the fact that the problems from the UNCHR are still existent. Most people would at first presume that this body makes no change regarding the respect of rights (positive or negative), but in fact it leads to constant increase of HR violations.

The citizens of the countries rely on the UN declaration of human rights, and the UN has an obligation to make great efforts in order to foster and promote these rights. Therefore we believe that every day that passes, in which the HR violations throughout all the countries are not given the appropriate attention is a day that more and more people will suffer from violators that could have been stopped with the deterrence measures developed from a stable UN human rights body. Should this body continue to exist, it will continuously harm the people around the world.

Hyperlinks from Argument 3:


No because…

Prop failed to present any concrete actual harm they claim that the UNHRC caused. Therefore, if we can show you even a marginal benefit arising from the UNHRC’s existence, then it is enough to want to keep the UNHRC.

In our points, we show you much more than marginal benefits – we show crucial and highly important achievements of the UNHRC.

Therefore, the prop is actually calling for the stopping of all the important work that the UNHRC is doing to promote HR. This is obviously a real and harsh damage for the global HR situation.

Moreover, the act of abolishing a UN body whose purpose is to deal with HR, sends out an extremely undesirable negative statement regarding the importance of HR.

Dismantling the UNHRC is an act of reduction of the importance of HR, and the influence of the fight against HR abuse – and in our points we’ll show that it also harms the process of shifting the world’s conception of HR as a matter only for the west, which is integral for fighting HR abuse.

The UNHRC is a “leading sponsor of impunity for gross abuses worldwide”

Yes because…

Opp is avoiding tackling our burden, claiming that if they prove a “marginal benefit” from UNHRC in few regions, they would prove it to be effective and beneficial. In fact it is squandering its invaluable position and resources.

When the truth and facts are being substituted with the “will of the majority”, it leads to ignorance of cases of HR abuse, and does major harm to the countries and the rights of the people. The council is guilty of CHOSING not to solve problems, not the lack of resources as the Opp. team claimed. The “objective decision approach” would remove this possibility while keeping all benefits team Opp is trying to prove.

Speaking of benefits, the “political support” Opp mentioned is not unconditionally tied to the politicized decision-making process. A HR body can contain government representatives that debate on the possible solutions, but they cannot vote on whether there is HR violation, since this decision will always be subjective.

More than half of the members, 24 out of 47, do not protect the basic human rights of their citizens[[http://bit.ly/m0BbPL]], which completely disproves the Opp presumption that the rotation system would help prevent the vote bloc. Whether it is China or Saudi Arabia, the situation remains the same and these countries will continue blocking resolutions when it suits them.

This body ignored 18 of the worst violators in 2010, as a result of the politicization [[http://bit.ly/cKtJmr]], which confounds the claim that we didn’t prove how HRC “exacerbates the situation”, since each blocked resolution does that, proving their own burden wrong.

At the end of the day, while refuting, prop agreed that objective decision-making is needed, but avoided to confess that it would mean abolition of HRC, but:

1. It is abolition, since the voting-based system is a “root” principle of this body, that would change everything in it;

2. They agree that this root principle is wrong, and needs a change – abolition.

No because…

It seems that Prop aren’t too clear on their suggestion – they are confusing reforms with abolition. During their counterarguments, they suggested that after abolishing the HRC, another body would rise instead.

This was in no way mentioned in their constructive material, and they haven’t proved that after two failed attempts, the third incarnation will achieve their goals – what changes can be done in order that the third body won’t squander its resources, and why these changes can’t be done on the HRC? Even if the HRC isn’t perfect and may need reform, this is no reason to abolish it. Changes can be made without starting a new body.

Now Prop needs to prove that the only way to reach the HRC’s goals is through another body. Just saying that there is an “objective criteria” doesn’t prove that it exists or that the next body will pursue it. Even the ICTY, pursuing objective laws, failed to condemn the west for blatant crimes such as bombing civilians in Kosovo[[http://is.gd/YHJCYE]].

More than that, it seems that Prop’s suggesting that the HRC’s inaction in some cases is interfering in other bodies’ actions (once again, asserted but not proven). For this we answer simply: when the HRC acts, it acts justly – Prop haven’t shown us a single instance of unjust action. Therefore, when it acts, it does good.

When the HRC chooses not to act initially, on these cases the GA won’t act too (for ex. Darfur). Other bodies still do act – NGOs, for example. Their actions are neither reliant nor connected to the HRC, even if they’re unable to create specific actions like those of the HRC. So, even in places where the HRC chooses not to act, the situation won’t improve with its abolition – there’s no body that wants to act and is blocked by the HRC.
Furthermore, Prop hasn’t shown us how can they be sure that the next body will act where the HRC won’t, and in our constructive material we show that any UN body will be as political as the HRC.

Too little too late

Yes because…

The cases of Darfur and Libya are clear examples of the UNHRC turning a blind eye to serious HR violations, reacting only when extreme violations force its hand.

Concerning Darfur, there have been hundreds of thousands murdered and millions displaced during the ongoing genocide in Darfur and yet there has been no General Assembly resolution condemning Sudan for human rights violations in the past five years.[[http://bit.ly/qKQFmH]]
Despite the obvious HR violations that were known to the world for almost a decade, the UNHRC reviewed the case in 2011 with no apparent result. Furthermore, the UPR mechanism “provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations” [[http://bit.ly/fHO9Kh]]. It is far from a proper investigation and depends on the good will of the members.

Concerning Libya, we believe that expulsion from the council is too little and too late. Despite immense HR violations [[http://bit.ly/nGkn9Q]], two months prior the expulsion UNHRC produced a draft report on the country that “reads like an international roll call of fulsome praise”[[http://nyti.ms/eYt8bQ]], . Waiting for the situation to escalate before the expulsion is proof of UNHRC’s inability to cover up the abuse any longer, not an example of a body dedicated to the fight against HR violation.

UNHRC clearly failed in the above cases. Examples of the U.S. state department praising its own success in the council on its own web site presented by the Opp fail to persuade us when compared to the above-mentioned cases.

Finally, Opp claimed: “the mere fact that a similar body was erected right when the committee was abolished, inherently testifies to how essential such a body is” . That fact actually shows that the problem with HR violations is a serious one and a body regulating it will be created when it is abolished. It does in no way prove that the body should work on the same principles as the commission and the coun

No because…

Regrettably, team proposition’s rhetoric is too far removed from the actual facts and reality:

Regarding Darfur, prop point us at the UN General Assembly resolutions instead of what the UNHRC done, which would be more relevant to our debate. Also, as a matter of fact, the UNHRC did live up to its expectations and investigated the HR violations in Sudan. [[http://is.gd/TBwZE9]]

Since the prop seemed to have missed one of the most crucial aspects of this debate, which is what the UNHRC is really expected to do, then our 5th positive point clarifies this in more detail.

Regarding Libya, again prop pulls their unproven “cover up” stories using misleading anecdotes and a Wikipedia article flagged at its top as having unverified claims and biases.[[http://is.gd/bcVbDs]] We’ll take this opportunity to set the facts straight: Qaddafi reacted violently towards protesters in February 2011 [[http://is.gd/86p3lu]], a month AFTER the said UN report was published[[http://is.gd/ZtlXMp]], which means prop are accusing the council of covering up events that did not even happen yet… Then promptly, within less than a month, Libya was expelled from the council.[[http://is.gd/tTRNmP]]
Therefore our example stands, the actions are well within the expectations from the UNHRC, and actually done right on time.

Prop have made a huge logical leap asserting that because the current council was erected after the previous was abolished, then when we abolish the current one, another will be erected on different principles.

On the contrary – the logical assumption would be that if we do the same thing again, we can expect similar results. Therefore, if we abolish the current council, for the same reasons we abolished the previous one, then we can expect the new council to be similar to the current one.

Thus, abolishing the council will not achieve anything other than the critical damages we’ve shown, to the global keeping of Human Rights.

Macedonia Summation

Yes because…

In this debate the Opp team took the burden: “if we can show you even a marginal benefit arising from the UNHRCs existence, then it is enough to want to keep the UNHRC.”This burden was engulfed by ours- showing how the time and resources UN has to invest in HR are squandered on UNHRC, and better spent a successor working on objective criteria when determining HR violations.

Even if we debate on the OPP burden we proved with overwhelming evidence that the council causes much greater harm by ignoring violations, giving wrong and biased assessment of the situation, enabling terrible HR violators the chance to protect themselves, compared to the benefit from the few stray resolutions it manages to get right. The examples of Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Darfur, Libya, Russia and China confirm this point. This point alone is enough to abolish the UNHRC

We showed that one of the main reasons for the dysfunctionality of the UNHRC is the politization and the bloc voting, preventing the body from reacting to OBVIOUS HR violations. Currently, the bodies meant to solve this problem are incapable of the task. The 3 years rotation especially when limited by the regional system (prioritizing location over HR protection) keeps yielding HR violators as members, and even if it somehow magicaly worked,3 years is simply too long to wait for proper membership. The UPR on the other hand is far from a proper investigation and depends on the good will of the members

UNHRC SHOULD be abolished because one of the main problems, the politicized decision making process when determining the existence of HR violations is a key component of the current Council. Team Opp acknowledged this problem and suggested: “ criteria can be set by the same body that erected the UNHRC and elects its members – the General Assembly”. However, because it is a key component that affects all others, it can only be changed with abolition as team Opp agreed in their 5th argument contradicting their first claim.

Opposition also failed to prove UNHRC equally spreads western and eastern HR ideals. This point was proven wrong by the LGBT resolution they offered themselves, a resolution imposing ultra western values on the member states contradicting their core values and sharia law

In conclusion we have the negative case offering a UNHRC that turned a blind eye to genocide and massive HR abuse while obsessing with Israel and committing 70% of its resolutions to it. By doing this the council did harm to the HR situation in the world, broke its own goals and objectives (as proven in our last refutation) and has no benefits to show for the wasted time and resources

Abolishing UNHRC will result in the creation of a successor deciding on set criteria.This resolves the politizacion problem and its symptoms. The UNHRC will HAVE to acknowledge HR violations if they fit the criteria, resulting in proper protection of HR optimal usage of UN resources and keeping the benefits of international cooperation

No because…

The Council’s unique place in the UN and global Human Rights efforts

No because…

Since it is crucial for the UN to continue promoting Human Rights issues, the most suitable way is via the UNHRC. Proposition failed to present any alternative, leaving us with no suitable body to continue global HR efforts. Since this is so crucial to our debate, we will now analyze the alternatives, and show they are ill-suited as compared with the UNHRC:

1. The General Assembly – as the name implies, it is best suited for dealing with issues on a more general level. At any given moment, it has too many issues on its table to deal with, to be able to effectively deal with the finer details of specific HR violation cases in each and every corner of the world. All the while dealing with numerous other crucial areas such as health crises, disarmament, and counter-terrorism, to name a few [[http://globalsolutions.org/files/public/documents/ManagingChange-2.pdf]]. That’s why we have UN councils in the first place. Thus, the GA is best for electing the members, but not for dealing with specific violation cases or monitoring over time.

2. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – carries out the Secretary-General’s “good offices” duties relating to HR[[http://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=437]]. The High Commissioner doesn’t represent the UN countries, but is an external office. Effective as it may be for positive, agreed-by-all measures, it can’t have the mandate for any negative or preventive actions such as condemnations. OHCHR is backed by the UN, but not by the nations themselves, which is an important distinction. Those actions are against nations, and so we naturally need the backing of nations in order for them to have any effect.

In conclusion, the council provides us with a unique institution – a council of nations backed by the General Assembly but more dynamic and not as cumbersome. The bottom line is that UNHRC can affect, change and act against other nations – and is relatively free from larger politics interfering.

Yes because…

The opposition opened their negative constructive case, with an argument that consists of no constructive material at all and does not lead to achieving their burden of proof. Opp claims that the raison d’être for UNHRC is the fact that there is no other body available at the moment, without providing providing real benefits from the council.

In fact, it was never the duty of the Proposition to find or design another superior body, rather to prove that since the “root” characteristics of the existing Council result in covering up of HR violations and neglect of serious violations in many critical regions of the world, UNHRC should be abolished.

The opposition failed to take into consideration that the UNHRC is the successor to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), a body which was abolished due to the high level of criticism that it allowed countries with no respect for human rights to be members. Deductively we conclude the following:

It is more than logical that should this council be abolished, the UN will not leave its job to either of the two institutions for which prop dedicated a whole argument, but rather create a new body which would succeed the old one. If the UN’s decision to abolish is based on the Aff arguments, that body will not have the “root” characteristics of the council nor its weaknesses.

Moreover, as we clearly stated in our 1st argument, we believe that lacks of objective-based decision making, causes immense harms (as the bloc voting and disproportionate focus). Therefore we consider this principle essential for an intergovernmental HR body, proving we still have a cause and a goal.

Finally, by stating that this measure can be applied to UNHRC as an additional criteria (objective DM),Opp confirmed that the current system is harmful, but refused to confess that it would mean abolition. Just as UNCHR was abolished due to strong criticism, it is more than obvious that changing a root principle is abolition as well

Essential contribution to the global protection of human rights

No because…

While some may claim the UNHRC is not an ideally-structured body, it still functions efficiently enough to achieve many of its goals. This is immediately apparent when observing just a few examples of some of the important and diverse issues the UNHRC has dealt with:

a. Guinea – in addition to condemnations on HR violations, the HRC also initiated requests for assistance from the international community for the transition to democracy, which produced “concrete results on the ground” [[http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/03/159343.htm]]

b. LGBT Human Rights – UNHRC initiated a historical joint statement signed by 85 states supporting equal human rights regardless of sexual orientation, addressing in the UN for the first time, the years of worldwide violence and discrimination against the group.

c. Israel – Following condemnations by the UNHRC, the Israeli Chief of Staff ordered to attach humanitarian liaison officers to active forces, as well as to modify the way soldiers fight in urban areas such as Gaza, to assure a tight adherence to HR standards in the future.[[http://www.faqs.org/periodicals/201104/2337368071.html]]

These important examples of recent UNHRC interventions represent the kind of essential and unique contribution of the UNHRC. Calling to abolish it means putting an end to all these crucial efforts.

The only claim left to prop is that “The UNHRC doesn’t focus on ALL of the countries that face HR violation”. The response to this is twofold: Just because we cannot do everything all of the time doesn’t mean we should not ever try to do good. Also, while something is clearly better than nothing in the case of HR, the UNHRC does more than that, as we’ve shown – it does a very important job in critical cases, that more than justifies it’s existence.

Yes because…

There are few points that were obviously neglected by the Opp. In the next few examples, we provide on the ground results, in the countries where they claim to be improvement:

a.Guinea: the 2010 Human rights report[1], explicitly describes numbers on violations, detected by the investigators. Among them we mention the beatings and torture, violence and discrimination against women and forced labor. Therefore, any of the actions proposed by the opp never worked, nor resulted with improvement. Not very surprising, when we analyze the source, US State department. We perceive no “concrete results”, only good old government barging.

b.LGBT is a resolution that was barely passed with 19 countries voting against it [2]. Among them, are mostly the notorious HR violators. We believe this resolution will do very little in member countries like Saudi Arabia where the penalty for homosexuality is death. Morover, it is highly optimistic to expect change in countries where citizens are starved for basic rights.

c.Sadly, we see no real results, on how the protection of HR was increased in Israel. Considering the 2011 Report by Falk, and the reported situation, Israel is facing numerous problems where Palestinians are evicted form their homes[3], and cases when the government oppresses the UNHRC presence. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the council was committed to a “preconceived outcome,” in theGoldstein Report [4] proving obsession with Israel more than anything else

The protection of the HR is defined as aiming to preserve more of the HR in most regions. Given the fact how 70% of all UNHRC country-specific criticisms have been on Israel and how the UNHRC never adopted a single resolution critical of states like China, Syria, Saudi Arabia or Zimbabwe we can see how it’s protection is not fairly distributed around the globe, nor where it is needed.

[1] http://1.usa.gov/qL47Mr
[2] http://huff.to/l4QyRn
[3] http://nyti.ms/CUrzE

Encouraging dissemination of human rights ideals

No because…

We believe that the UNHRC serves to encourage countries to face and understand the status of HR abuse in the world.

Currently, the human rights campaign is viewed as a western crusade against the rest of the world – by pushing mostly western ideals and morals, and also driven by western educated people.[[http://is.gd/O1CTB4]]

The Council system not only spreads the burden more equally, but also allows for a balance against the western bloc, which is over-represented in the OHCHR, ICC and relevant NGOs. The regions represent mostly uniform cultural, ideological and moral blocs, and the rotation enables each country to be represented in its region and in the Council equally.

This system is unique within the HR organisations world, in that it is not centered on Western ideals, but rather a more unified global view of HR. In this way the UNHRC provides a needed balance for the human rights campaign.

The regions system emphasizes that the western world is only one party in the global fight against HR abuse. Consequently, abolishing UNHRC will be seen as an act against the involvement of the rest of the world, and shifting the balance back towards western countries. This will both create hostility towards other HR bodies, and give the impression that guarding HR is only in the Western’s interests, or that it’s only the Western’s duty. Thus, the UNHRC is important as a symbol, and disbanding it will cause actual harm.

It is important to involve as much of the world in the HR effort, to increase resources as well as to increase understanding of the populace, to allow for greater mobility of agents and lower mobility and acceptance of offenders, and greater cooperation between investigative and executive bodies. But the main importance lies in understanding what is HR abuse, how some actions might seem justified but cause immense harm, and the importance of global actions, both in fighting HR abuse and in helping the victims and refugees.

Yes because…

The Opp is trying to prove that by abolishing the UNHRC, we will lose a body that represents the eastern region and values, since the western world is over-represented already. What team Prop is going to show is that this body is certainly not a representative of eastern values, so abolishing it will not create a single harm in that term.

For starters, the Opp bases this entire argument on the assumption that HR campaigns are oriented westward. In order to prove a claim of this magnitude, we believe stronger and less subjective evidence that the Supreme Islamic Council of Canada is required. A local religious organization aimed at spreading Islam. [[http://bit.ly/oM7jCR]]

Even if we accept the unfounded assumption that many of the international HR organizations favor western perceptions of HR, we intend to prove UNHRC has always promoted western ideals. In the previous argument Opp presented the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resolution as a grand UNHRC achievement. [[http://bit.ly/kAC3Bs]]

First of all, it was past amid strong criticism of South Africa (the sponsor) by some African nations. Furthermore, bearing in mind that Muslim countries are governed by Sharia law, homosexuality is seen as one of the biggest criminal acts and is punishable with death in many countries (Saudi Arabia a member of UNHRC included). This means that contrary to what negation is saying, even the UNHRC is promoting progressive western ideals, in direct conflict with the eastern values.

Team Opp claims that “abolishing UNHRC will be seen as an act against the involvement of the rest of the world” but its successor will be an international body as well so we don’t see how this could happen.

Finally, presuming that abolishing the council will cause “hostility towerds other HR bodies” is a big logical leap that was not proven, especial when we take in consideration its inability to protect HR and its pro west HR perception.

The political system of the UNHRC promotes Human Rights

No because…

UNHRC has a unique political system which in itself promotes HR. It separates the world into 5 different areas, and rotates the countries in each area, so that each country receives a 3-year representation period.

Therefore, even if there’s a state of bloc voting, it would be only temporary since the rotation enables a blocked issue to re-surface later when other countries are joining the council. Moreover, countries will be less inclined to cooperate in bloc voting if they know that the other party, whom they are asked to protect, will soon rotate and not be able to reciprocate.

Rotation means countries understand they can’t rely on theirs or allies’ seat for protection, but mainly on reducing their abuse of HR. Basically, the rotating system encourages a race to the bottom: every country wants to be the least plausible and obvious target to the UNHRC censoring amongst non-member states, and so are pushed to reduce their HR abuse. Even if they do it just to avoid censoring or be a less obvious target, then the rotation system has already achieved its goals of reducing HR abuse.

Moreover, we believe rotating seats allows more countries to be involved in condemning and guarding against HR abuse, as more countries are exposed to the subject over time. Countries which violate HR will not be elected to the council, a condemnation in itself, Belarus is a recent example[[http://is.gd/RQXr3Q]]. Once a country is on Council, it focuses its own attention on HR, and gains a greater understanding of the global harms of HR abuse – which leads to greater internal care of HR.

While perhaps not ideal in its current form, we need to remember that UNHRC is a fairly young body that still shapes itself, after having been equipped with the right tools for the task.[[http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/genf/04769.pdf]] We believe the final political form of the council will be perpetually changing and self-balancing body, that will better fit the dynamic political climate.

Yes because…

Team Opp agrees that there is a problem with the decision making system, but instead of abolishing a body founded on a broken principle, they try to patch it up claiming the problem is temporary due to the 3 year rotation. In those 3 years countless violations were covered up, as many resolutions blocked and unbridled genocides took place . That aside, the status quo clearly shows that the rotation is unable to filter the HR violators, especially when it is additionally limited by the regional system (prioritizing location over HR protection).

This is very obvious when we take a look at the HR situation of the current members that came to be through that system:

Saudi Arabia
One of very few governments never to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Right –the basic charter of fundamental freedoms on which the council itself is based–the Kingdom does not allow women to drive; punishes homosexuality and other nonviolent “crimes” by flogging, forced amputation or death [[http://bit.ly/rqwb8G]]

Authorities have jailed scores of dissidents, protesters and others, often through the use of a “dangerousness” provision that allows the detention of Cubans on suspicion that they might break the law in the future. [[http://lat.ms/bF9Edg]] Reported HR violations: beatings and abuse of prisoners and detainees, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, including denial of medical care; harassment, beatings [[http://1.usa.gov/b2SToz]],

The situation is as bad, if not worse in China and Russia, due to spacial limitations we will only point to evidence #1 for more info.

On the point of Belarus, the reason for not getting reelected was the loss of political backing rather than the HR violations, since an abundance of HR violators were elected at the same time so it is an exception, not the rule.

The rotation system has proven unsuccessful, and even if it was perfect, it is not a reason to keep the decision process if the DMP has no benefit on its own.

A serious look at Proposition’s logic

No because…

The United Nations is an organisation which views politicization as a core principle – its main idea is that world change can only be achieved by the cooperation of all nations worldwide, through careful consideration of extreme diversity of cultures, values and interests.

Therefore, any kind of body that seeks to provide representation for the member states of the UN, will inherit this “politicization” phenomenon. It is a by product of the “Human Element” of the UN, which the prop absurdly trying to fight against.

Every decision making body in the UN is a political council of nations – GA, ECOSOC or the Security Council.[[http://is.gd/6DXFlw]] [[http://is.gd/Vty6Ag]] By Prop’s own logic, if we should abolish the HRC, we should abolish most of the current UN structure.

Politicization in itself naturally has its pros and cons, but it is the choice of the UN to be a political body and not an “objective” one, because there’s no objective truth agreed upon by all nations. The only way to achieve the UN’s goals is through agreement – i.e., politics.

That is the reason why UN’s “objective” professional bodies, like the OHCHR aren’t independent, need their relevant superior council’s agreement on actions, and can’t initiate significant actions – that is the prerogative of the political bodies.

We should remember that the same is true of national governments, and even in the subject of HR politics come first[[http://www.sudanvisiondaily.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=41795]], because otherwise there’d be no agreement of nations to participate, and we’d return to the world before the UN.

Therefore, politicized and nonobjective decision making can be found within any UN body, if that body seeks to have significant influence. This is what the HRC is all about, that is what the UN is all about, and attacking one for it is equivalent to attacking the other.

Yes because…

Refuting our first argument team Opp stated:

Prop itself hints at an alternative way around bloc voting, stating that there’s “absence of an objectively determined criteria when defining HR violation”, but this is certainly no reason to put an end to this important council. Rather, a criteria can be set by the same body that erected the UNHRC and elects its members – the General Assembly.

Now they changed their strategy, claiming that such criteria cannot exist in a UN body. In this argument they agree with us that the criteria would in fact mean abolition, and that POLITICS come before HR in the UNHRC.

UNHRC is comprised of 47 rotating members. Compared to GA’s 193 we see a clear limitation of the “politization” and participation of “all nations worldwide”. The absolute veto power of members of the Security Council is another example. Different bodies have different needs; partially limiting the politicization in order to achieve effectiveness is not a new concept in the UN, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be used if it brings sufficient benefits.

Replacing the political approach with criteria (when determining if HR violation occurred)will not undermine the intergovernmental structure of the body,nor decrease cooperation. It is only natural that the members of the body will AGREE upon the criteria as they AGREE on the statute when a new body is created. As we stated earlier, the members will still vote on actions, strategies, recommendations etc.

When a body needs a decade to react on a genocide, (in spite of massive pleas for help from the citizens) there is obviously a malfunction in that body. In our previous arguments we showed how the mechanisms present in the status quo are unable to stop bloc voting, allow major HR violators to become members and avoid prosecution, and allow obvious violations to be ignored.

If partially limiting the politization solves these problems it is reasonable to do so.

The council’s goals and how it successfully achieves them

No because…

In a perfect and fictional dream world, we could create a council which would put an end to all worldwide problems, bring world peace and end all famine. We at team Opposition suggest looking at the reality of the complex world we live in and the even more diverse surroundings that the UNHRC exists.

We will clarify the exact aims and goals of the Council, then show they are certainly being fulfilled successfully. Not only that, but these goals are essential to the HR problem solving process.

The Human Rights Council was established to “strengthen the promotion and protection of Human Rights”. To accomplish this, the council is expected to investigate HR situations and provide appropriate recommendations. [[http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/]]

Suffice it to have a quick glance at the latest summary of resolutions, decisions and statements issued by the council, to clearly see the evidence of how the council’s important objectives are being constantly met. [[http://is.gd/6vyphx]]

These include decision to mandate fact finding missions, investigations into breaches of HR, interactive dialogues, along with declarations and discussions that raise global attention to a wide range of HR issues such as: trafficking in persons, violence against women, human rights of migrants and children, among other important areas covered recently [[http://is.gd/AISmUb]].

Bringing these items to the consciousness and agenda of the world and the consequent discussions with the relevant parties are all an immense part of the process towards resolving these issues. Prop’s suggestion we put an end to all these highly important contributions, makes no sense.

What Prop seems to expect of the UNHRC is simply not within its charter, and so there’s no wonder that Prop’s expectations weren’t answered.

In reality, the UNHRC is living up to its charter and acting on its designated goals by its designated tools, and so we see no reason to abolish it.

Yes because…

To claim a list of passed resolutions is proof on its own for the success of UNHRC is illogical. “Analyzing 30 key UNHRC resolutions of the last year, this report finds that a majority of 18 were actually counterproductive to human rights. Resolutions that praised Sri Lanka after it killed an estimated 20,000 civilians; praised Sudan for its “progress”” etc.[[http://bit.ly/aEAnhX]] [[http://bit.ly/pxUD8y]]

Some of the main principles and objectives of UNHRC.

– Make improvement on the human rights situation on the ground.
– Ensure universal coverage and equal treatment of all states.
– Not be overly burdensome to the concerned state or to the HRC agenda.
– Not be overly long, it should be realistic and not absorb disproportionate amount of time, human and financial resources.

To see how well HR are being protected we need to examine the situation on the ground. We have proven with overwhelming evidence in the cases of Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Darfur, Libya, Russia, China etc. that the council ignores violations, gives wrong and biased assessment of the situation and enables terrible HR violators the chance to protect themselves, ergo Improvement on ground has not been achieved.

A short clarification on Libya . The UNHRC draft report praised Libiya as a capable protector of human in spite the fact they have been violating HR for decades. They reacted only after Gaddafi forced their hand, attacking the protestors. The segment of the article we linked is not flagged, and its sources are legitimate (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, the Guardian, The Economist etc).

On the remaining 3 principles we refer to the situation in Israel. The council spends disproportionate amount of time and resources on Israel compared to the other countries, it is burdensome to the country and has been reported to have a bias against Israel. [[http://bit.ly/mSLUFi]]

In conclusion, it is clear that UNHRC is not fulfilling its own principles and objectives as Opp claime

Opposition Summary & Conclusion

No because…

Through this debate, Opposition has defended the HRC on two fronts – we’ve shown that the political inclination of the council serve the greater good, and we’ve shown that the HRC is successfully acting against HR abuse. And so, To create a world where human dignity is a given, and to join the whole world in the fight for this cause, we urge you not to abolish the HRC.

Prop claimed that the current HRC is too political, like the previous HR Commission was, and so it acts non-objectively. We’ve shown that politicization exists in every organization as well as in the UN and is essential in order to create international agreement on the efforts of the HRC[[http://tinyurl.com/3kan74q]] – and so, every call against politicization is a call against international cooperation and the UN.

Also, in our 5th rebuttal we’ve shown that there is no real objective decision, and that a UN body that matches Prop’s ideal dreams is impossible. When Prop suggested the replacement of the HRC with another council, without explaining how the alternative will amend any so called “faults”, we saw that Prop’s claims about the flaws of the system did not stand up to their own concession that there is need to a council of a similar form, but have failed to show a possibility for a successful alternative.

Furthermore, we’ve shown how the “politicization” promotes human rights, by balancing between exposure of many countries to the subject, promoting responsibility[[http://tinyurl.com/3t46k8n]] and preventing entrenchment and protection through the rotation system[[http://tinyurl.com/3fad8pj]]. So, politicization is not only essential for a UN council, but is also a positive factor which enables the council to act internationally and is no reason for abolition.

The second focal point of this debate concerned the way that the HRC supports or harms HR. Prop claimed that the HRC made no progress to promote HR, isn’t tackling HR issues where they happen and actually harming HR – without sufficient proof of harm. We’ve shown that the HRC is acting in a unique and essential way, so if there is no alternative to it. the council is succesfully promoting HR in several distinct cases[[http://tinyurl.com/3t6ks6y]], it should be abolished.

Hence, simply removing it, and by doing so stopping the current efforts of the HRC would greatly harm the global fight for HR causes.
Furthermore, we explored Prop’s actual claims in the 6th rebuttal, and the HRC actual mandate, proving that the HRC does stand up to its mandate[[tinyurl.com/3sbm33n]] & that Prop’s expectations are illogical, if not impossible. Even if it is not magically solving all of the world problems, it is achieving a substantial amount of good without no concrete harm – its doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.

And so, because the HRC is achieving its goals, and displays excellent achievements given the natural limitations imposed on any UN council, we see no reason to abolish it.

Yes because…

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