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NATIONAL POST

Mary Robinson goes to McGill
 
Alastair Gordon
National Post

McGill University plans to award an honourary doctorate to Mary Robinson on May 31. Ms. Robinson, the Human Rights Commissioner for the United Nations, is certainly an eloquent spokeswoman. But her lofty rhetoric about human rights has been undermined by her cynical actions.

Most famously, Ms. Robinson presided over the shameful Durban conference in 2001, at which Israel -- the only democracy in the Middle East -- was demonized as the planet's worst violator of human rights, and visitors from Arab nations circulated anti-Semitic literature reminiscent of the Nazi era. Ms. Robinson was warned months in advance that the conference was being hijacked for these purposes, yet did nothing.

Even afterwards, when the fiasco had been made plain, she declared: "Durban was an honest, if at times painful, global dialogue about some of the most searing issues facing humanity ... Durban launched a renewed global alliance against racism and gave it a solid anti-discrimination agenda to work with."

While Ms. Robinson was President of Ireland, the nation that held the European Union presidency in 1996, the Palestinian Authority managed to divert about $9-million per month of European aid to the slaughter of Israeli men, women and children. Later, her Human Rights Commission voted to condone suicide bombings as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood.

And while Ms. Robinson was lending the Commission's imprimatur to the Arab world's hateful grievances against Israel, what conferences did she organize to deal with Muslim mistreatment of women, or the ethnic cleansing of civilians by Sudan's Islamic government, or the Syrian occupation of Lebanon? None.

As someone who is touted as a successor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Ms. Robinson knows that Arab nations, not Israel, will help determine if she gets her coveted post. She would not be the first aspirant to boost her odds by selling out Israel.

How does Mary Robinson view her critics? She has said that "the media in the United States is very inward looking ... The media, the general population of the United States and, in particular, the U.S. administration, do not understand and value properly economic, social and cultural rights." Yet she says little about Arab societies, where citizens -- women and religious minorities in particular -- can only dream of the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Americans.

In light of all this, it would behoove McGill's administrators, professors, students, alumni and donors to ask the university this question: Why are you honoring an individual who has has let the cause of human rights be trumped by Arabism and UN politicking?

 National Post 2004