On 9 June former UN Independent Expert on International Order, Professor Alfred de Zayas, comments on the call by a number of ngo’s for the resignation of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
This unprecedented call is cynical, disgraceful and demeans human dignity. It manifests the fact that a “human rights industry” has emerged, made up of pseudo-ngo’s that are financed by the US National Endowment for Democracy and other governments, ngo’s that toe the line of the powerful and disseminate fake news and dis-information.
As Professor of international law, former Secretary of the UN Human Rights Committee, and former UN rapporteur, I consider the mission report by High Commissioner Bachelet to be highly professional, balanced and constructive.
For decades I have closely followed developments in China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet. As a senior lawyer with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, I played a role in the preparation of the China visit of High Commissioner Mary Robinson in 1998, which bore positive results, including the signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In December 2009, I participated in an academic conference in Beijing focusing on China’s human rights performance under the Covenants.
The purely political reaction by the US State Department to the 28 May 2022 statement by Michelle Bachelet, and the opportunistic statements by some ngo’s are manifestations of the weaponization of human rights. Neither the US nor these pseudo-ngo’s are interested in advancing the human rights and welfare of the persons concerned, but are merely beating the drums of the information war against China. I think all serving UN rapporteurs should push back against this disgraceful effort to intimidate the High Commissioner, because ultimately it impinges on our own authority and credibility.
The only use that these pseudo-ngo’s see in the function of a High Commissioner is not her independence, professionalism or mediating skills, but her readiness to sing the prescribed song.
I experienced the same kind of intimidation and mobbing before, during and after my mission to Venezuela in November/December 2017. According to these “operatives”, the only function of a UN rapporteur visiting Venezuela would be to condemn the government and demand “regime change”, not to look for root causes of the problems, offer advisory services and technical assistance, and concretely try to help victims, including successfully advocating for the release of dozens of persons.
Sad, how human rights have been politicized and weaponized, how some ngo’s have been transformed into purveyors of propaganda.
I hope that serving and former UN rapporteurs will issue a statement supporting the independence and professionalism of the High Commissioner and OHCHR, and reject pressures to toe a political line.
We must stay course — and push back against the corruption of values.
Photo credit. UN