The denouement of the United Nations Human Rights Council vote instructing its High Commissioner to “prepare a comprehensive written report on the situation of human rights in the Philippines” was as ridiculous as the vote was significant. President Rodrigo Duterte was left uttering his most nonsensical remarks ever, saying that the reason Iceland, the main sponsor, filed the resolution was because “they have nothing to eat in Iceland but ice.”
Philippines’ worst diplomatic defeat
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teddyboy Locsin was left spluttering about “far reaching consequences” for the governments that had voted for the resolution. The consequences for Locsin are, however, anything but ridiculous. Duterte does not like being made a fool of, especially internationally, and it will not be surprising if Locsin, an amateur diplomat who has led the Philippine government to its worst diplomatic defeat ever, were to be replaced by a more experienced hand, according to Department of Foreign Affairs professionals who could barely conceal their glee at their titular boss’ humiliation.
Equally as significant as the setback of the Duterte administration was the stinging defeat of its main backer in the UNHRC: China. The optics, for one, were pretty bad: Iceland, one of the world’s smallest countries, had, in David versus Goliath fashion, drubbed the world’s largest. To governments across the board, the vote showed that Chinese diplomacy was, to use Mao Zedong’s words, a “paper tiger.”
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