It should be obvious to everyone by now that being a signatory to a United Nations convention doesn’t mean anything in real terms.
Unless the UN is about to start hauling recalcitrant signatory countries before an international court, the conventions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
Especially in a country that doesn’t have a bill of rights in the first place.
As proof of this, since 2002 the UNHCR has been castigating Australia about our treatment of asylum seekers. That’s ten years of being publicly reprimanded for our disregard of the Refugee Convention, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We breached these conventions ostensibly in the interests of protecting our totally unthreatened sovereignty. In reality it was done in the interests of self serving careerist, and immoral politicians.
Have we taken any notice? Have we been shamed? Who is there among us that really gives a stuff what the UN thinks of us?
John Howard started it by complaining that UN committees critical of his government’s stand on indigenous affairs and refugees were unfairly treating democratically elected governments. Howard didn’t acknowledge that the purpose of the UN was to look out for democratic governments that are also disregarding of human rights, as if such institutions couldn’t possibly exist:
Those who had argued before the UN that mandatory sentencing laws or native-title legislation were racially based were wrong, and it was absurd to let a foreign group decide such issues from afar. ‘ I mean, can’t these things be resolved by Australians in Australia and not us having to dance attendance on the views of committees that are a long way from Australia,’ Mr Howard said.
Things have gone down hill from there.
In a breathtaking act of hypocrisy, the Gillard government now expects us to believe that the UN has some control over Malaysia. Although the Gillard government continues to ignore the UN’s complaints about our treatment of asylum seekers, she simultaneously seeks its support to sell her Malaysian solution.
You can’t have it both ways. If you don’t give a damn about the UN’s opinions on our breaches of the conventions, you can’t then claim that their approval of the Malaysian solution carries any weight at all, let alone makes such an agreement safe and sound.
The UN conventions mean nothing. They are entirely dependent on signatory countries implementing the undertakings. Nobody really gives a stuff about a bad report from a body that has no legs and teeth. This is a post UN world. Catch up, Gillard. We see right through your spin.
- Desperate Labor cannot be believed on asylum seekers (theage.com.au)