Monday, April 25, 2005

US votes against the right to food and the right to highest standards of medical care at the UN

There were two particular resolutions passed by the United Nations' Commission on Human Rights a little under two weeks ago and it might interest you to know how the United States voted on them.

On April 14th, the UN Commission approved a resolution stating "that hunger constituted an outrage and a violation of human dignity and, therefore, required the adoption of urgent measures at the national, regional and international levels for its elimination; and considered it intolerable that there were around 852 million undernourished people in the world." Imagine that, 852 million: sad and outrageous.

But there was ONE country that voted AGAINST this resolution, which the Commission billed as the resolution "On the Right To Food." Not China, not Iraq, not even Cuba. In fact, only the Untied States voted against this resolution.

Why? Well, according to Lino J. Piedra, who gave the US explanation for its vote, "the United States had proven by its actions its profound commitment to promoting food security around the world.... The attainment of any right to adequate food or right to be free of hunger was a goal to be realized progressively that did not give rise to any international obligation nor diminish the responsibilities of national governments to their citizens." Well, I interpret that explanation to mean that the US honors its obligation to aid those who are starving in other parts of the world and that the US doesn't need a UN resolution to tell it what to do. Hmm. Interesting.

On another resolution, this time on medical care, the United Nations' Commission on April 15 passed a resolution "on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health." And the only country that voted against this resolution was again the United States.

Why? Well, according to David Hohman who gave the US response, "The delegation of the United States had requested that the co-sponsors use standard language in preambular paragraph 1 that was contained in other resolutions, not language that recalled treaties to which not all States parties had affirmed their obligations pursuant to treaties to which they had become a party."

Hmm....I don't even know how to translate that one.

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