Hypocrisy: UN Savages Vatican, Goes Soft on Saudi Arabian, North Korean Child Abuse

The liberal media have made much of a recent United Nations committee report insisting that the Vatican needs to ditch centuries of orthodox Christian doctrine as part of its effort to combat child sex abuse.

But as Claudia Rosett of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies noted yesterday in an op-ed published February 10 in the Wall Street Journal, the UN has been curiously quiet about real abuses of children borne about by authoritarian regimes like the Saudi Arabia, Iran, and North Korea. You can read the full piece here. Here's a taste (emphasis mine):

The Committee on the Rights of the Child consists of 18 panelists advertised as "independent experts," serviced by a secretariat housed in Geneva under the umbrella of the U.N.'s dubiously named Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The committee members are nominated for their posts by the governments of their home countries and elected by an assembly of treaty members that reflects the despot-heavy tilt of the U.N.

From 2009-13 the committee included a member put forward by the government of Syria, where in 2011 the Assad regime began making world headlines for torturing and murdering children. Currently, the committee includes members from such human-rights-challenged countries as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Bahrain and Egypt. This panel issues reports via a process that in practice entails neither uniform standards of judgment nor urgent attention to some of the world's most horrifying abuses of children.

Officially, all parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child are supposed to self-report every five years. The U.N. committee then responds with its own volume of "concluding observations"—which is what just hit the Vatican. In practice, however, some treaty members miss their deadlines by years, and when they do clock in, the committee is chronically slow to respond. Iran has for years led the world in juvenile executions, yet the committee last reported on Iran in 2005. Its next report on Iran is not due until 2016.

A stark example of selective reporting can be found in the committee's most recent observations on Saudi Arabia—issued eight years ago. That report mentioned the case of a 2002 fire at a girls school in Mecca, a disaster in which 15 girls died and dozens more were injured. Expressing "grave concern" that "the school building did not meet adequate safety standards for children," the committee recommended that school buildings be made safer and that staff be trained for such emergencies.

What the committee did not mention was that when the schoolgirls tried to escape the fire, Saudi Islamic-morality police drove the students back into the burning building because they were not covered head-to-toe in the scarves and abayas required in public. Saudi journalists had the courage to report on this monstrous element of the tragedy. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child left it out.

Or take North Korea, where state policy has led to famines that resulted in the stunting and mass starvation of children, and where disloyalty to the supreme leader can be punished by sending three generations of a family, including children, to prison-labor camps. In assessing North Korea, the U.N. committee in its most recent report released in 2009 expressed concern about"severe ill-treatment" of children and noted with "deep concern" that "the overall standard of living of children remains very low." But there was none of the fervor with which the committee has denounced the Vatican for failing to explicitly forbid corporal punishment. On that the committee was more than merely concerned, scolding the Holy See to ensure that "all forms of violence against children, however light, are unacceptable."

Foreign Policy United Nations Wall Street Journal Government & Press Claudia Rosett