Which club would you like to join?

Club 1:Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka.
Club 2:Bolivia, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Japan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, Republic of Korea, Uruguay, Zambia
Club 3:Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

If it helps you decide, Club 1 has an average score from Freedom House, blending civil and political liberties, of 4.55, or ‘not free’. Club 2 has 2.5, or free, and Club 3 has 1.25, also free but very convincingly so.

And what are these clubs about? Well Club 1 ratified the latest human rights farce, Club 2 abstained and Club 3 voted against. Amongst other bits which anyone at all enamoured of liberty ought to reject (as the voting shows they did):
Clause 4 sounds like they don’t like Pat Oliphant’s cartoons (‘recent serious instances of deliberate stereotyping of religions‘), but I have a feeling that isn’t really what they meant;
Clause 6 is s worth reproducing in full:

6. Expresses concern at laws or administrative measures that have been specifically designed to control and monitor Muslim minorities, thereby stigmatizing them and legitimizing the discrimination that they experience;

Clause 9 is about the ‘defamation of religion’. Presumably they don’t mean teaching blood libel in Arab schools, because that is implausibly far-fetched. They must just not like Richard Dawkins.
Clause 10 is about protecting religions from contempt – oh if we were more contemptuous! Happily it seems to leave room for being contemptuous of the UNHCR UNHRC.

‘Islam’ is mentioned 10 times, Muslim a few, ‘Islamaphobia’ twice or thrice. Needless to say no other religion merits a mention.

Something like this makes me think that the US was right at take I, per John Bolton – the world would be better off without a UNHCR UNHRC full stop.

(edited for a silly but important typo)

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14 Responses to Which club would you like to join?

  1. Nabakov says:

    Well this post was looking lonely so I’m tossing a comment in.

    What’s your point Pat? The UNHCR is crap?

    You could have stated that in four words instead of a ponderous and arch begging the question and demanding the answer 300 plus words. I come to Club Troppo to read people making a good point instead of trying to score a cheap one.

  2. Patrick says:

    My overall point was only to share something, I’m afraid. I was just quite struck by the breakdown of countries, so much so that I thought I would do the quick Freedom House comparison. And then I thought that striking enough to share it. Sometimes even cheap points are worth making.

    Maybe I had a faint hope of finding a reason not to have so little hope in the UNHCR, but I doubt it.

    Anyway I am sorry that you are disappointed Nabakov, and I admit that the language isn’t very elegant. The bit about clubs was only meant to allude to the question of which club Rudd will be courting in his keenness for Australia to get a security council seat.

    I did think about adding a quick apology at the end for the interruption to normal clubtroppo service – maybe that would have cheered you up.

  3. Nabakov says:

    OK Pat. I think where you really went wrong first with that post was not spelling out the CL acronym in full at first.

    I still don’t know exactly what it stands for but have hazarded a guess that it represents various paras of whatever the UNCHR is up to now.

    “The bit about clubs was only meant to allude to the question of which club Rudd will be courting in his keenness for Australia to get a security council seat.”

    Only start alluding to it once you’re confident your readers have spelt it out i their own heads.

    Basically, while I not don’t not disagree with the central point you’re trying to make, (ie: Exactly how much bullshit do you have to swallow these days to score a seat on the UN SecCon), I think you were a bit too eager to make too many points at once.

    Also that Freedom House table is quite risible. No coherent definition of “freedom” and their list seems to have been assembled in crayon during a drinking game. “Free!”, “That’s a shot!”. “Partly Free!”, OK, Gulpers”, “Not Free!”, “Pass the bottle.”.

    Starting at ‘A’, Afghanistan offers more economic freedom than anywhere else – grab a gun and start growing drugs – while moving to “U” the UK has more CCTV surveillance per capita than anywhere else in the world.

    What you should have done is ruthlessly fisked what ever the UNCHR has come up with now, in whatever this “CL” format is while weaving in a running commentary about how ex-diplomant Rudd’s push to score a SecCon seat will basically mean fuck all in the big long run.

    Stuff trying to play the morality, ethics and principles cards. Treat it as absurdist realpolitik. That’s what they do.

  4. Nabakov says:

    Shorter me. I think I agree with the point I think you’re trying to make. I just think you’ve made it very badly.

  5. Patrick says:

    To clarify, and I apologise for the jargon, you are spot-on and ‘Cl’ means clause.

    The bit about clubs was really only very tangential, it was more that I phrased it that way because I had that in my head. I didn’t set out to make that point so much as just note the whole craxy silly event. I do believe we need to note this kind of thing. But maybe the club thing should have been my main point!

    But talking about cheap shots – whilst anything like the Freedom House table is rarely going to stand up to detailed criticism, they have bothered to have a shot, however drunkenly totteringly, and overall the rankings actually do stack up reasonably well.

    I do think they disregard CCTV though, since they are constrained to come up with a global scale they have chosen to focus on some more ‘basic’ civil liberties, like independent judiciaries, freedom of expression and association, freedom to have sex, own property, etc.

  6. nysa67 says:

    you mean UNHRC right? UNHCR do I great job from my point of view

  7. Patrick says:

    Well spotted, thanks! And oops. I will correct the post tonight.

    The UNHCR certainly does do a better job than the UNHRC.

  8. NPOV says:

    I don’t quite understand the conclusion – why would the world be better off without the UNHRC, vs having an effective and realistic UNHRC?

  9. John Greenfield says:

    The net inpact on the “world” would be roughly zip. “International human rights norms” was an experiment, it failed, let’s cut our losses. Australia could do much more with the time, money, and energy, spent on this creepy “human rights” cult, and the indignity of our Governor General gushing and fawning over the world’s wretches. What an insult. The number of people who care about this crap would be about 7 and that’s including the resume-padding legal academics, who appear to be the only people who want to keep us involved.

  10. Patrick says:

    In response to NPOV, which should also answer some of JG’s concerns:

    ‘An effective and realistic UNHRC’ might just be beyond our present international legal framework which still clings, rightly or wrongly, to the fundamental supremacy of sovereignty. Plainly, in the realist sense to which Nabakov refers, States are anything but equal. However, the UNHRC epitomises the way in which international law’s devotion to sovereignty allows small weak states to ‘gang up’ on the bigger.

    Of course, this is not in any ‘real’ sense. The UNHRC could collectively decide to attack America, and (leaving aside China) they would be collectively annihilated. But in the tricky legal sense epitomised by this latest declaration, small states can achieve all sorts of things, 99% of them to the detriment of human rights.

    There are some positive signs, such as the ICC’s indictment of Bashir and the Special Tribunals and Courts for Yugoslavia, Rwanda and others.

    But more fundamentally, I think we need to move to a more sophisticated concept of sovereignty, one in which sovereignty is recognised as sourced in the citizens and not the State per se. Under this model, your soveriegnty would be only as good as your franchise, basically.

    Clearly, this would have to be pretty liberally interpreted. There would be no advantage in legalistic fights over whether a given democracy was ‘quite’ legal or not – basically, the standard should be little more than if the country has elections that are internationally adjudicated to be free and the country respects freedom of speech, then it is ‘in’, and counts as a member of the international community. Whereas if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t, and it go and wallow in some neo-nazi hippie festival like Durban till the cows come home for all anyone has to care.

    So if we could get to that kind of a world, then I would love to have an effective UNHRC. Since you can guess how far away such a world is, you can see what I think the chances of an effective and worthwhile UNHCR are.

    Hence I think Bolton was probably right and we should have tried harder to scupper it (except all the Euros thought it was a ‘good thing’, see above re small otherwise impotent countries and international law).

  11. Tel_ says:


    These laws allow the police to apply for Control Orders against individuals which will result in people being restricted from socialising with friends, attending events, entering premises – including premises which they may actually own or lease. The law will make it a crime to associate with members of a declared organisation, and associating has been defined to include communication by telephone, letter, facsimile, email and other electronic means.

    These laws have supposedly been implemented in order to prevent serious criminal activity from occurring. What is of concern is that in achieving this it is likely to cost dearly in every day civil rights that we take for granted. In effect, the law assumes guilt by association, it assumes that once you have committed an offence you are always a criminal and past offences can be relied upon to convince the Attorney General and/or the Court that you are likely to go on to commit further offences. It restricts freedom of movement, it restricts your right to peaceful enjoyment of your own property. Forget about freedom of association.

    These laws ignore the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” and instead, decisions can be made based on the fact that a person was charged with a crime previously, regardless of whether or not that charge resulted in a conviction.

    Personally, I feel a lot safer with the bikers than with the current NSW Labor government. The bikers are more honest, less inclined to take out innocent bystanders, and far more predictable and trustworthy. I’ll admit that I have voted Labor in the past, but I doubt I could ever do in future. Somehow I never expected it would come to this. I’ll also admit that I send a regular donation to Amnesty International which will also will stop if they don’t make some effort to put an end to such insanely dangerous extensions of government power.

  12. Tel_ says:


    The NSW Attorney-General introduced legislation to Parliament this month that would allow police to search the homes of people not suspected of any crime, but whose homes adjoined those of people who are. The laws build on state terrorism legislation in 2002.

    “None of us, or our members, were aware that the NSW Government proposed such laws, that such laws were considered necessary or on what basis they were considered necessary,” said an open letter signed by groups including the International Commission of Jurists, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

    “The way that it has been introduced without public consultation and debate and is being pushed rapidly through the Parliament demonstrates the very real, if not urgent, need for consolidated human rights protection,” it said.

    Looks like I have some idea of where to send the AI money to.

  13. Patrick says:

    Actually, Tel, I am quite happy for Amnesty to largely ignore Australia.

    My biggest criticism of them was that their desire to be ‘unbiased’ or ‘evenhanded’ or whatever they thought it was led them to criticise the US (or indeed Australia) as much as oppressive regimes which actually seek out and punish if not kill dissidents.

    I always thought that they needed to divide their annual report into a few chapters, say:
    1 Could be better but frankly fantastic compared to the rest
    2 One can live here but there is a lot to improve; and
    3 Shit-hole.

  14. Tel_ says:

    I always thought that they needed to divide their annual report into a few chapters,

    Yes I get your point, there are much worse places than Australia, I expect we will see economic refugees from the USA wanting to get here before longer.

    On the other hand, it’s easy to find historic examples where things went from good to rotten in a relatively short time once a mob mentality became acceptable governance and safeguards were removed. It would be heartbreaking to see it happen here. What’s more, if we manage to crap up our own country then we can forget about doing anything useful for anyone overseas, for example, I doubt that you could even get away with writing such reports in places like China or Singapore.

    During the last 10 years we have had so many erosions of freedom in Australia and both major parties have been involved, that’s probably the scariest thing for me. Mind you, same is happening in just about every developed nation. Maybe the US will crash so hard that the survivors start reading their Constitution over again.

    The theory has it that when the primary military muscle is a mass army of yeomen (be it archers, or riflemen, or just factory production of bulk equipment) then you have Democracy. When the main military muscle is a small, highly trained and well equipped elite force then you end up with a Feudal System.

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