OTTAWA–Troubled Rights and Democracy is facing fresh controversy after its Conservative-appointed board secretly decided to close the agency's Geneva office, distancing itself from a United Nations body it viewed as anti-Israeli.
But some say Monday's decision to shutter the European office will give Canada a black eye on the international stage and further undermine the work of Rights and Democracy, an agency already battered by internal turmoil.Good move. Canada should wear that "black eye" with pride. It's proof we decline to hobnob with those who push an eliminationist agenda against Israel, one that's poorly disguised with the fleece of "human rights". Now, if only Harper would do something about our dreaful domestic "human rights" apparatus...
The move comes even though an independent analysis just last month praised the work of the Geneva office, saying it was a good fit with the agency's mission to promote human rights and democracy.
The report, prepared for Rights and Democracy and obtained by the Star, concluded that the office should be maintained, saying it meets a "strategic need," was proactive and was "making excellent use of limited resources."
"We had to keep that going. It was a must. We don't live in a small planet limited to single interest in a single country," said one insider familiar with the situation.
"It's very sad. I don't know to what extent damage will be caused to Canada and to the human rights organizations. Geneva is the centre place in the world," the source said.
The office was established in 2007 in Geneva – seen as a hub of human rights work – with a mission to monitor the work of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), "strengthen" a partnership with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as collaborate with many of the international non-governmental organizations working out of the Swiss city.
But, on Monday, the board of Rights and Democracy held a late-day meeting in Toronto – some directors called in by phone – and decided not to renew the two-year mandate of the Geneva office...