Gillard continues to pretend that the UN matters

10 Jun

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.

6 Responses to “Gillard continues to pretend that the UN matters”

  1. Sam Jandwich June 10, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Um, just so we know what we’re on about, you can see a judicial caning in Malaysia here:

    And a warning, this is just about the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen in my life, so don’t watch it if you’re at all squeamish (and Jennifer no objections if you want to delete it), but if we can watch cattle being mistreated then we can watch what might happen if we send asylum seekers to Malaysia.


    • Jennifer Wilson June 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Sam, thanks heaps for this, I’ve put it up, have also linked it in the comments on my article in On Line Opinion today about unaccompanied minors.
      My Drum piece isn’t up yet, probably most appropriate when the government announces the Malaysia deal is up and running.


      • Sam Jandwich June 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

        No worries Jennifer. Thanks for putting it out there. This video has actually been around for a while – I originally saw it about two years ago following a trip to Singapore… but it still makes my stomach churn. It’s probably a bit much for TV, but I thought it might be useful re your point that there is so little humanity in this debate.

        I did look for your Drum article but I noticed that Julian Burnside had something up about this issue that day – and I guess he’s hard to compete with!

        And lastly, I feel a little silly posting under this pseudonymn but I’m a bit protective of my identity, mostly because of the field i work in – However if you would like me to write to you just to introduce myself properly then I’d be happy to. Do you have a public email address? or perhaps you can get access to mine already through this site?? And don’t worry, I’m actually a perfectly normal person;-)


  2. gerard oosterman June 10, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    So, get the politicians to watch a caning on a human and see how quick they will stop all trade with Malaysia. Don’t hold your breath!


  3. gerard oosterman June 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    I have linked the caning to ABC Opinion as well.gerard :
    10 Jun 2011 11:46:05am
    When it comes to The Convention of Animal rights we act very quick. No more trade of cattle with Indonesia.
    With our UNHCR obligations concerning mere refugees we stumble and mumble for years on end.

    Perhaps our politicians ought to watch what Malaysia does to it’s human cargo.

    Thank you Sam .


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