Homo Consumericus

The nature and nurture of consumption

The United Nations Is a Morally Bankrupt Body

Which countries sit on the UN Human Rights Council?

Of all functions that the United Nations fulfills, perhaps none are as important as those dealing with universal human rights. As listed on its website, The United Nations Human Rights Council has the following mandate (see here): “The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.” Sounds like a wonderful initiative.

The current council consists of forty-seven countries including the following illustrious bastions of human rights (see here): China, Cuba, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Past members include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, and Pakistan. Hence, countries that engage in the most egregious and grotesque violations of human rights sit on a council meant to promote and protect human rights. One of the “intellectual” positions that permit for such an affront to human decency is moral relativism. The argument goes something like this: Democracy, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, the equality of the sexes, freedom of religion, and the protection of various minority groups including homosexuals are Western constructs. After all, who are we to judge the way by which other societies conduct their internal affairs? This would be cultural imperialism/colonialism. Accordingly, the hanging of gays, the stoning of adulterous women, the genocide of religious minorities, the imposition of capital punishment for blasphemy, the beheading of “witches,” the severe restriction of free speech, and the inability to participate in a democratic process, are simply alternate ways of defining human rights. It would be culturally insensitive for the West to impose its own definition of human rights based on equality, fraternity, and liberty. One must allow for “alternate” expressions of human rights including the rejection of Western definitions of human rights. I wish that I were making this stuff up. Alas, this is the standard fraudulent and morally bankrupt “intellectual” courant that allows for such an astonishing reality. Canada and the United States sit at the same table as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, and Cuba in tackling violations of human rights. It is hallucinatory.

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When South Africa was governed by the evil and deeply racist apartheid system, the world decided to collectively sanction the regime by excluding it from countless international bodies (e.g., the Olympics). Ostracism works rather well in regulating the behaviors of individuals, groups, and nations. Accordingly, some folks are now proposing an alternative to the United Nations wherein countries must earn their place at the global table. Specifically, rather than a body that allows all nations to partake in the process, a new international organization should be formed that is solely made up of true democracies. Hence, rather than the United Nations, we would end up with the United Democracies. For the same reasons that we would not allow the KKK or the Nazi Party to serve on an organization meant to promote racial equality and harmony, we should not permit countries with a wanton disregard for the most basic human rights to sit on a global council meant to protect such rights.

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Gad Saad is Professor of Marketing at Concordia University and author of The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption and The Consuming Instinct.

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