Comparatively speaking, the UN Human Rights Council is still in its infancy. Set up only twelve years ago by the UN General Assembly, it had one over-riding purpose – to rectify the egregious faults of its predecessor body, the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). The UNCHR had been a working body of the United Nations virtually from its foundation in 1946, but over its 60 years of existence it had accrued a raft of objectionable practices which finally made the organization totally unacceptable to many governments, activists and eventually to the UN itself.
It was sunny in Sydney, Australia, on Thursday morning. A guest of the city’s opulent annual writers’ festival, I was about to tape a talk show at the headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In the waiting area of the makeup-and-hair room, reading material was strewn on a low table: a few magazines, some flyers, and several copies of a precious pocket edition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a glossy baby-blue cover. The thirty articles of the Declaration fit onto fourteen tiny pages and still left enough room for an additional introduction, which said, in part, “These…
The counter-offensive against the revolts widely referred to as the “Arab Spring” is not limited to attempts to stall the process, steer it off course, deprive it of its content, or even transform it into devastating sectarian civil wars – as witnessed in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Instead, it has become a general attack on the legitimate and idealistic goals of the uprisings.
A new pragmatic spirit is dawning in the Middle East. Old outworn attitudes are beginning to crumble. For example, when have officials from leading Arab states sat round a table with those from Israel – which many of them do not formally recognize as yet − to discuss how to alleviate a problem affecting the region? Yet that is precisely what happened on Tuesday, 13 March 2018, when Israeli national security officials met their counterparts from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates in the White House to discuss a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the…
It is a touching characteristic of the optimistic liberal soul that it perennially inclines to believe that bad situations cannot get worse. But of course they can and often do get worse. This would seem to make it hard to be an optimistic liberal for very long, but some people accomplish it for decades on end apparently without much effort. How do they do it?
Today, there is growing anger in all areas of daily life – between neighbors, in religious discourse and other aspects of personal and social relations. Young people have been expressing their strong opposition to certain ideologies through violence. In other words, we are faced with a global wave of violent radicalization.
Ask most people who has committed the worst terrorist attack in Europe in the past decade or two. They’ll probably say Muslims. They would be wrong.
A year ago, in May 2016, Britain’s House of Lords decided to establish a new International Relations Committee. On 2 May 2017, after six months deliberation, the committee issued its second report: “The Middle East: Time for New Realism”. It is, quite frankly, an astonishing document, imbued with unconcealed hostility towards, and distrust of, US President Donald Trump, with the anti-Brexit rhetoric of much of the British establishment, and with downright naïve recommendations, reflecting the consensus of the politically correct, concerning Saudi Arabia, the Iran nuclear deal, and Palestinian sovereignty.
Blasphemy has joined terrorism as a catchall phrase to intimidate, incarcerate and kill critics and political opponents as well as stifle unfettered debate and settle scores.