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INTERNATIONAL > Amnesty slams UN for leadership failure

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An Egyptian protester throws a stone toward soldiers, as a building burns during clashes in Cairo in this file photo. AP photo

An Egyptian protester throws a stone toward soldiers, as a building burns during clashes in Cairo in this file photo. AP photo

Amnesty International has accused the U.N. Security Council of shortcomings in its 50th annual report, saying it has failed to match the courage shown by protesters around the world and is increasingly “unfit” to fulfill its duties.

The rights group said the vocal support by many global powers in the early months of the Arab Spring in 2011 had not translated into action, with many international leaders now looking the other way. In Syria the group said there was a “clear and compelling case” for alleged crimes against humanity by Bashar al-Assad’s regime to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

“Failed leadership has gone global in the last year, with politicians responding to protests with brutality or indifference. Governments must show legitimate leadership and reject injustice by protecting the powerless and restraining the powerful. It is time to put people before corporations and rights before profits,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General, said.

Egypt example

“The determination of some U.N. Security Council members to shield Syria at any cost leaves accountability for these crimes elusive and is a betrayal of the Syrian people,” Shetty said. Russia and China have vetoed two Council resolutions which condemned al-Assad, and they fiercely oppose U.N. sanctions. He said that in the 21st century the U.N. Security Council was “simply not fit for purpose. If they do not change the way in which they behave, I think there are going to be increasing questions about the relevance of the body.”

The group also called for the signing of a strong treaty on the global arms trade when the U.N. meets on the issue in July, saying it would be an acid test for world leaders to place rights over profits.
The report also gave the example of Egypt. The vocal and enthusiastic support for the protest movements shown by many global and regional powers in the early months of 2011, has not translated into action. As Egyptians go to the polls to vote for a new president, it looks increasingly as if the opportunities for change created by the protesters are being squandered. “In the last year it has all too often become clear that opportunistic alliances and financial interests have trumped human rights as global powers jockey for influence in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Shetty.

‘Unlawful’ bin Laden raid

The group also criticized the U.S. for its use of lethal force, particularly for the “unlawful” killing of Osama bin Laden in a clandestine U.S. commando raid in Pakistan last May.

“The U.S. administration made clear that the operation had been conducted under the U.S.’ theory of a global armed conflict between the U.S. and al-Qaeda in which the U.S. does not recognize the applicability of international human rights law,” it said. “In the absence of further clarification from the U.S. authorities, the killing of bin Laden would appear to have been unlawful,” it added. Amnesty said a request for clarification over an apparent U.S. drone strike in Yemen last September that killed U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, his al-Qaeda co-conspirator Samir Khan and at least two others had also gone unanswered.

May/25/2012

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