Once again, at the urging of the United States, Cuba is being singled out for possible censure by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

The proposed resolution against Cuba is another reflection of the political maneuvers and shameless hypocrisy of the Bush administration. It comes only days after the State Department laid the groundwork for the UN resolution by releasing its own report alleging human rights violations in Cuba and elsewhere.

The UN report is conspicuously silent about U.S. crimes and abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, and in the U.S. itself. Many thousands of detainees are being held by the Bush administration in various locations around the world without trial and in conditions that clearly violate the Geneva Conventions. Over 10,000 prisoners are being held in Iraq alone, a figure that has doubled since October.

Efforts by the U.S. to manipulate the UN Commission on Human Rights have sought to reduce that august body to a mechanism for political victimization and intimidation. But its schemes along these lines are not always successful.

Last year, for example, the vast majority of Latin American countries on the commission chose Cuba as their regional representative. Cuba was also elected to the commission’s action panel, reflecting a growing appreciation of Cuba’s moral authority in the Americas and its authentic human rights advances.

The tables can also be turned sometimes. For example, in response to Washington’s complaints of human rights violations in China, that country’s information office released its own report criticizing U.S. human rights performance. In stark, dispassionate statistics, the report documents the persistent problems of racism, discrimination and voting irregularities in the U.S., as well as other forms of chronic injustice.

Cuba has rightly questioned the morality of the UN commission as it is presently constituted, and argues that it illustrates an unjust and unequal world dominated by the powerful, who treat human rights with selectivity, double standards, blackmail and hypocrisy.

The UN Human Rights Commission can be an extremely useful and healthy force of international morality in this moment fraught with so many violations. However, it cannot serve such purposes if it continues to be manipulated by the very forces perpetuating such injustices.

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