UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture is playing to the gallery

Editor, RE: “Govt: Abrupt end of U.N. torture mission to Rwanda violated own guidelines” (The New Times, October 23). Bad faith is unfortunately hard-wired in many of these people’s DNA, given the close links of many of these so-called experts to the likes of Human Rights Watch (HRW) which has greater clout with many UN agencies than many member states.
Justice minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye addresses inmates at Huye Prison on the occasion of the Nelson Mandela International Day in Huye District on July 18, 2017. (File)
Justice minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye addresses inmates at Huye Prison on the occasion of the Nelson Mandela International Day in Huye District on July 18, 2017. (File)

Editor, 

RE: “Govt: Abrupt end of U.N. torture mission to Rwanda violated own guidelines” (The New Times, October 23). Bad faith is unfortunately hard-wired in many of these people’s DNA, given the close links of many of these so-called experts to the likes of Human Rights Watch (HRW) which has greater clout with many UN agencies than many member states.

These people believe their real mandate (the only one likely to keep them and their ‘NGO’ allies in business and let their fees and future incomes continue to roll in) is if they are able to report dire human rights situations in the target countries. Whether that is true or not is really irrelevant; the important thing is that they can make the charges sound plausible and credible.

The idea that their work is in fact supposed to be aimed at helping member states to continuously work at improving their human rights situation is not as rewarding as painting the direst of pictures of that situation in the target country with a view to eliminating any doubt about the necessity of their work as well as that of their friends and associates among the likes of HRW and their ilk.

As such, there is a fundamentally structural conflict of interest at play in the work of these so-called experts that needs to be addressed if they are truly to fulfill the purpose for which they were originally intended. There is equally a need to reduce, or even entirely eliminate, the influence of political activist organizations like HRW from the process.  

There is nothing of human rights advocacy about what they do; they merely use human rights as a fig-leaf to carry out political action aimed at destabilising member states. Why should an organization of sovereign member states give non-state organizations, no matter how well-funded and well-connected, such powers that should be the preserve of the sovereign members?

In giving these unaccountable non-state organizations (and those who sponsor them) such easily abused powers, these UN agencies are seriously undercutting their own legitimacy as well as that of their member states.

Mwene Kalinda

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