Testimony before the UN Human Rights Council by the Hon. Michael Danby, MP from Australia, September 26, 2016.
Thank you, Mr. President.
My name is Michael Danby, member of the Australian Parliament. I have the honour to take the floor today on behalf of United Nations Watch.
Australia has announced its candidacy next year to join this Human Rights Council. I support this bid, in the firm belief that Australia can contribute to the global protection of human rights—and to this Council’s founding promise, of renouncing the bias, selectivity and politicization of its discredited predecessor.
Australians have a historic connection to the United Nations and its human rights system. After World War II, Australian Foreign Minister Dr. H. V. Evatt played a key role in establishing the UN. As President of the General Assembly in 1948, he helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose core guarantee, reaffirmed by the Vienna Declaration, is the right to life.
Sadly, however, this is being violated. The most glaring example is the massacre of innocent civilians in Syria. As we assemble, over the past few days the world has witnessed the unprecedented escalation of the murder and maiming of hundreds of men, women and children in Aleppo.
When a UN-backed humanitarian convoy—bringing life-saving aid to hundreds of thousands in that besieged city—was deliberately bombed last week by waves of airstrikes, this Council ought to have convened an urgent debate—and still should.
Mr. President, we ask: As the world watches hospitals and first responders being deliberately bombed, and running water cut off for an entire city, why is this Council silent?
Is it because this Council has instead focused on condemning the democratic country of Israel—under a special agenda item to which no other country is subject—in debates held both last Friday and today?
Are the perpetrators of this mass murder—Syria’s Assad regime, Iran, and their backer Russia—granted impunity because Russia is an elected member of this Council, now seeking re-election?
I thank you, Mr. President.