Finally the so-called UN Mapping report on the Democratic Republic of Congo is officially out. That does not matter very much because it has been in the open for quite a while now – from the time it was leaked to Le Monde, and other media outlets, in parrot-like fashion, repeated that newspaper’s stories without reading the actual report.
That is how some of the media work. It is a relay system whereby the original story is carried from one outlet to the next, whether it is correct or not. Eventually the story gets the stamp of truth, especially if it is relayed through the more reputable media.
As expected there was not much difference between the final report and the draft. It would indeed be surprising if there were any because the intention of the report is not to reveal the truth, but rather to drive the agenda of some organisations and individuals.
And in that lies the essential weakness of the report. From conception to publication, it is not a disinterested investigation of what really happened in the DRC, but a confirmation of the views of some in the human rights industry.
The report is nominally the work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and because of that the world body must bear full responsibility. The authors of the report, however, cannot be from the UN alone.
Typical UN reports are frustratingly vague, obviously because they are intended to avoid offence and to evade decisive action. Their language is tepid, non-committal and couched in stale, lifeless diplomatic phraseology.
The mapping report is remarkable for its strident and activist tone. It is categorical in its haste to apportion blame for failures of the international community and to call for punitive action against those on whom they have passed judgement.
Anyone familiar with the language of international human rights groups will recognise the similarity between them and the current report.
They will particularly see the unmistakable hand of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International behind it. The UN has admitted as much, listing its sources as mainly the human rights groups, and these two appear prominently.
The merits or demerits of the report aside, do the various rights groups led by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and hiding behind the respectability (once upon a time) of the UN have the moral right to throw the biblical first stone (although they have made it a habit to throw, not one, but many indiscriminately) in this or other cases?
Rights groups have proliferated in many countries over the years. And it has become fashionable, even respectable, to espouse human rights causes. Since the end of the cold war, they have become foreign policy tools of the more powerful countries as well as instruments for those with a private agenda.
In addition they have become very lucrative businesses. Not to be outdone in the fashion and power game, the UN also set up its own human rights high commission. But the biggest players in the rights business remain Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Their involvement in the mapping report is fairly clear – certainly their methods are written all over it.
The government of Rwanda has criticised the report on what it calls, “flawed methodology and the lowest imaginable evidentiary standard.” Listen to this from Robert Rubenstein, one of the founders of HRW and one time its chairman. He has accused the organisation of, “poor research methods and relying on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage.”
He could have been speaking about the mapping report on DRC and its accusations of Rwanda.
He goes on to say that when it suits the interests of some elements within HRW, they allow perpetrators of all manner of atrocities to play “the moral equivalence game” by failing or refusing to recognise the difference between crimes committed in self-defence and those perpetrated intentionally.
This is similar to what the government of Rwanda has diplomatically termed, “the omission of the historical context.” It is also similar to the double genocide line pushed by this report which bears the imprint of its known advocates – a group of lawyers at the ICTR in Arusha and their friends in the academia.
The Times of London has also pinned HRW on using researchers with an “activist background” who are inevitably one-sided. By activist the newspaper means “ideological”.
Because of this they tend to ignore human rights abuses of countries and organisations to which they are allied ideologically, or which are amenable to ideological manipulation, while covering other countries intensely.
Thus they ignore the failures of the UN, rights groups and various armed groups who continue to wreak havoc in the DRC, and instead focus their main attention on Rwanda.
The other big player in the rights industry, Amnesty International, fares no better. Its reports are equally one-sided and do not take into account mitigating national security concerns.
Again, those who know AI very well say that it is concerned more with organisational continuity and survival than human rights. Francis Boyle, Professor of Law at the University of Illinois, who served as AI’s US board member, has said that the organisation is motivated, “first by publicity; second, money; third, more members and fourth and last, human rights”.
According to sources from within the two organisations, they are noted for not practising transparency, tolerance and accountability, which they urge others to do. And yet here they are, together with others of similar behaviour, their hidden hand behind the UN report on Congo, calling for alleged perpetrators of atrocities in that country to be held to account.
These two groups and various others, and now the UN have such arrogance and show so much contempt for African governments that they seek to direct them, and where they fail, set up as anti or alternatives to government.
For many, their designation has changed from NGO (Non-governmental Organisation) to AGO (Anti/Alternative Governmental Organisation).