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A Bad Day for Human Rights

Something has been lost since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was first adopted.

11:00 PM, Dec 10, 2007 • By JOSEPH LOCONTE
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"We are at a critical point. Time is running out," Ban said last week. Ah, yes, the ticking clock: Two days later the Secretary General flew to Bali for a conference on climate change with Al Gore. The people of Darfur could wait.

Something, it seems, has been lost since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights won widespread approval--the moral basis for human dignity, for starters. The U.N.'s mass multiplication of human "rights" has surely weakened an earlier understanding of rights as sacred, unalienable, the gift of nature and nature's God. Charles Malik, the Lebanese delegate and Christian philosopher who helped draft the Universal Declaration, worried intensely about this outcome. "It is precisely my intention," Malik said, "to give meaning to that vague phrase, human dignity and worth to save it from hollowness and emptiness."

Two dozen helicopters. It is a hollow institution, indeed, that cannot muster the resolve, or the conscience, to find them. Military power will not, by itself, solve the many problems of Sudan. But without it we can be sure that the assaults on human dignity--the executions, rapes, ethnic cleansing--will continue. If this fiasco represents the combined political will of the "international community," then the world's human-rights abusers have little to worry about.

Joseph Loconte, who served as a human rights expert on the Congressional Task Force on the United Nations, is a senior fellow at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy.