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    How Scary Is This??


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    How Scary Is This??

    Post  Yehudah on Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:27 am


    Eye on the UN
    For Immediate Release:
    October 5, 2009
    Contact: Anne Bayefsky

    You Can't Say That:
    At the UN, the Obama administration backs limits on free speech.

    This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in The Weekly Standard.

    The Obama administration has marked its first foray into the UN human rights
    establishment by backing calls for limits on freedom of expression. The
    newly-minted American policy was rolled out at the latest session of the UN
    Human Rights Council, which ended in Geneva on Friday. American diplomats
    were there for the first time as full Council members and intent on making

    President Obama chose to join the Council despite the fact that the
    Organization of the Islamic Conference holds the balance of power and human
    rights abusers are among its lead actors, including China, Cuba, and Saudi
    Arabia. Islamic states quickly interpreted the president's penchant for
    "engagement" as meaning fundamental rights were now up for grabs. Few would
    have predicted, however, that the shift would begin with America's most
    treasured freedom.

    For more than a decade, a UN resolution on the freedom of expression was
    shepherded through the Council, and the now defunct Commission on Human
    Rights which it replaced, by Canada. Over the years, Canada tried mightily
    to garner consensus on certain minimum standards, but the "reformed" Council
    changed the distribution of seats on the UN's lead human rights body. In
    2008, against the backdrop of the publication of images of Mohammed in a
    Danish newspaper, Cuba and various Islamic countries destroyed the consensus
    and rammed through an amendment which introduced a limit on any speech they
    claimed was an "abuse . . . [that] constitutes an act of racial or religious

    The Obama administration decided that a revamped freedom of expression
    resolution, extracted from Canadian hands, would be an ideal emblem for its
    new engagement policy. So it cosponsored a resolution on the subject with
    none other than Egypt--a country characterized by an absence of freedom of

    Privately, other Western governments were taken aback and watched the weeks
    of negotiations with dismay as it became clear that American negotiators
    wanted consensus at all costs. In introducing the resolution on Thursday,
    October 1--adopted by consensus the following day--the ranking U.S.
    diplomat, Chargé d'Affaires Douglas Griffiths, crowed:

    "The United States is very pleased to present this joint project with Egypt.
    This initiative is a manifestation of the Obama administration's commitment
    to multilateral engagement throughout the United Nations and of our genuine
    desire to seek and build cooperation based upon mutual interest and mutual
    respect in pursuit of our shared common principles of tolerance and the
    dignity of all human beings."
    His Egyptian counterpart, Ambassador Hisham Badr, was equally pleased--for
    all the wrong reasons. He praised the development by telling the Council
    that "freedom of expression . . . has been sometimes misused," insisting on
    limits consistent with the "true nature of this right" and demanding that
    the "the media must . . . conduct . . . itself in a professional and ethical

    The new resolution, championed by the Obama administration, has a number of
    disturbing elements. It emphasizes that "the exercise of the right to
    freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities .
    . ." which include taking action against anything meeting the description of
    "negative racial and religious stereotyping." It also purports to "recognize
    . . . the moral and social responsibilities of the media" and supports "the
    media's elaboration of voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct" in
    relation to "combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related

    Pakistan's Ambassador Zamir Akram, speaking on behalf of the Organization of
    the Islamic Conference, made it clear that they understand the resolution
    and its protection against religious stereotyping as allowing free speech to
    be trumped by anything that defames or negatively stereotypes religion. The
    idea of protecting the human rights "of religions" instead of individuals is
    a favorite of those countries that do not protect free speech and which use
    religion--as defined by government--to curtail it.

    Even the normally feeble European Union tried to salvage the American
    capitulation by expressing the hope that the resolution might be read a
    different way. Speaking on behalf of the EU following the resolution's
    adoption, French Ambassador Jean-Baptiste Mattéi declared that "human rights
    law does not, and should not, protect religions or belief systems, hence the
    language on stereotyping only applies to stereotyping of individuals . . .
    and not of ideologies, religions or abstract values. The EU rejects the
    concept of defamation of religions." The EU also distanced itself from the
    American compromise on the media, declaring that "the notion of a moral and
    social responsibility of the media" goes "well beyond" existing
    international law and "the EU cannot subscribe to this concept in such
    general terms."

    In 1992 when the United States ratified the main international law treaty
    which addresses freedom of expression, the government carefully attached
    reservations to ensure that the treaty could not "restrict the right of free
    speech and association protected by the Constitution and laws of the United

    The Obama administration's debut at the Human Rights Council laid bare its
    very different priorities. Threatening freedom of expression is a price for
    engagement with the Islamic world that it is evidently prepared to pay.


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    Re: How Scary Is This??

    Post  Arik on Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:41 am

    Do you really expect anything different from the UN or Obama?

    Posts : 466
    Join date : 2009-08-06
    Age : 55
    Location : East Coast, USA

    Re: How Scary Is This??

    Post  Yehudah on Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:11 am

    Arik S. wrote:Do you really expect anything different from the UN or Obama?
    No, but it's still pretty scary nonetheless.

    THIS ALONE is a good reason to keep him at one term.

    ...trying to actualize my potential!

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    Re: How Scary Is This??

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