Newspaper response to UN denial of self defense right
Don Kates emailed me the attached article from the Bangkok Times. The link no longer works, but I've pasted it in extended remarks below.
> The right of self‑defence
> Bangkok Post (Thailand)
> Opinion; 8
> September 8, 2006
> The new and supposedly improved version of the United Nations' focus on
> international human rights has hit the headlines again, in a startling
> manner. Reports bubbling up through the bureaucracy of the Human Rights
> Council, as it now is called, are addressing the supposed problem of
> so‑called small arms ‑ the term that bureaucrats use for rifles and
> An astounding report by the world body's Special Rapporteur on the
> subject has gone far overboard. It suggests that it ought to be global
> policy that neither nations nor their citizens have the right of
> self‑defence. It is difficult to imagine a more obscure and tortuous
> route to reach the apparent goal of the Special Rapporteur, which is a
> ban on small arms.
> Before even addressing the huge problems raised by the prominent UN
> office, it is relevant to wonder why the Human Rights Council is so
> deeply concerned with this subject. The Council, readers may remember,
> used to be the UN Human Rights Commission. This body routinely gave the
> thumbs‑up to the treatment of citizens by governments such as the
> Burmese military dictatorship, the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot and the
> Serbian regime of Slobodan Milosevic ‑ and all their ideological
> cousins. This state of affairs became so embarrassing that the
> Commission was executed, and the Council was formed by the UN members,
> who elected members like Saudi Arabia and China, judging them as
> superior in maintaining human rights to Thailand, which was rejected as
> a member. The world is still awaiting the first major report on human
> rights by the Council. Meanwhile, it has turned its attention to the
> local murders, uprisings and small wars in which small arms are used. It
> seems to consider a violent mugging in New York City or Moscow as a
> matter for the United Nations.
> A few years ago, Prof Barbara Frey, an American academic, was a UN
> adviser on the subject; now she is the top official. She has produced a
> strong report against small arms. She has two basic recommendations.
> Nations must "prevent human rights violations committed with small arms
> and light weapons" and that the United Nations should oversee this.
> The goals in themselves are puzzling. No civilised government currently
> supports or legally allows assault or actual attack by its citizens on
> others. Every nation on earth has rules, regulations and enforcement on
> the ownership and use of personal weapons. Laws against killing and
> wounding are universal, and apply far past the specific paraphernalia
> included in Ms Frey's report. While international cooperation in
> preventing and redressing violence is a strong necessity, it is
> difficult to see a role for the United Nations. Adding a layer of
> bureaucracy to the tracking, arresting and extraditing of a murder or
> bank robbery suspect, for example, seems counter‑productive. Putting in
> a special international law to punish, say, a Burmese police officer
> because he used a shotgun to violate the human rights of an arrestee
> instead of a rubber hose is also unhelpful.
> More troubling is that much of her Special Rapporteur's briefing is
> dedicated to knocking down the principle of the right of self‑defence,
> for individuals and for countries. The lengthy and final report claims
> there is no international human right of self‑defence set out in the
> primary sources of international law. This is hugely incorrect, and
> indicates the Special Rapporteur has never even heard of a protective
> mother and a threatened child, let alone a small nation under attack
> from a large one. It is troubling that the world body and such a major
> group as the Human Rights Council would be associated with this idea.
> Internet bloggers have presented massive citations refuting Ms Frey's
> egregious error. To cite just one, from the great Cicero of Rome: "In
> case of a lawful defence... we act only with a view to our own safety;
> we make use of our right; and the aggressor alone is chargeable with the
> mischief which he brings on himself."
> Self‑defence is a basic human right. The UN Human Rights Council, as its
> name implies, should spend more time investigating actual violations of
> human rights.