By Anne Bayefsky, ,
Published June 19, 2018
President Trump has rightly decided to terminate U.S. membership in what U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday called the “misnamed” U.N. “Human Rights” Council.
The move comes after the Trump administration gave the council 17 months to get serious about reform and to stop spreading anti-Semitism under the false flag of promoting human rights.
Many believed it was 17 months that the U.N. didn’t deserve. U.S. membership on the council legitimized an especially treacherous adversary to liberal democracies: the faux human rights victim. But in response, U.N. actors squandered the more than generous opportunities for change provided during hundreds of meetings and are left with no one to blame but themselves.
The Human Rights Council was the U.N.’s cure for the Human Rights Commission – presided over by Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya shortly before somebody noticed it lacked credibility.
Other than the name change from “Commission” to “Council,” the other big difference was that when the the commission ended in 2006, its members included China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia, and when the General Assembly elected the members of the new Council, they chose China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia. (No joke.) Now among the 47 U.N. states calling the shots on the organization’s top human rights body are such human rights paragons as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Qatar and Venezuela.
The Trump administration tried hard to address the conditions for membership on the council. While the General Assembly was first drafting the rules for the council back in 2005, then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton (currently President Trump's national security adviser) worked tirelessly to do the same. During a five-year “review” to fix the council back in 2011, the Obama administration pushed for membership reform as well. They all failed, Democrat and Republican alike.
The main distinction between Republican and Democratic approaches to the council was over the issues of whether to join it and whether to foot the bill.
President George W. Bush said that if the council was a tool for human rights abusers to masquerade as human rights authorities, and to foment anti-Semitism by using the Jewish state as a proverbial scapegoat, the leader of the free world would not join or legitimize the council.
President Obama said it’s better to engage, just as it was better to engage and empower Iranian sponsors of terrorism, to engage and enable Syrian dictator Bashar Assad “the reformer,” and to engage and reset relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin until he felt secure enough to invade his neighbors.
There is no doubt that the U.N. Human Rights Council is a productive tool for anti-Semites. Discrimination against the Jewish state is baked into procedures and output as well as into its composition.
The council reserves one permanent agenda item for every one of its regular sessions for condemning only Israel. All other 192 U.N. member states are considered together under a separate item, if they are discussed at all.
The council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than any other country on Earth, and nothing condemning almost 90 percent of the world’s states. The council has held more emergency special sessions on Israel than on any other country, including Syria – where at least 500,000 have died and up to 12 million people have been displaced.
But even beyond the disturbing fact that anti-Semitism thrives at the United Nations under the guise of human rights is that the “human rights” experts, the nongovernmental organizations and the academic entourage surrounding this whole apparatus, have the council’s back. For months, they have been flooding the airwaves and Haley and Pompeo’s email inboxes begging the Trump administration to stay on the council. In a nutshell, they make one basic point: the demonization of Israel, even if undeserved, is peripheral to the common good.
Pompeo and Haley have courageously decided to set them straight. Equal rights cannot be built on inequality for Jews and the Jewish state.
Playing minority groups against each other is not progress, it’s discrimination. And unless and until the common good has no Jewish exemption clause, the U.N. “Human Rights” Council is an oxymoron that does not deserve our respect or support.