U.N. Human Rights Commission: Good Riddance
5/9/2001 12:00:00 AM - David Limbaugh
What kind of international organization expels a member nation because it
insists that the body live up to the principles outlined in its charter? Answer: The
United Nations Human Rights Commission.
On May 3 the United States lost its seat on the commission for the first time
since it helped found the body in 1947, for reasons having nothing to do with its
commitment to human rights. Adding insult to injury, other nations with shameful
records on human rights, such as Sudan and Libya, were chosen for membership.
Though the United States received assurances of support from more than 40
nations, only 29 of those nations fulfilled their promises. The rest betrayed us in the
Many rights-abusing nations voted against U.S. membership in order to
avoid its scrutiny of human rights violations. If you stack an enforcing body with fellow
violators you go a long way toward establishing immunity for miscreant nations.
Congressman Henry Hyde affirmed, "This is a deliberate attempt to punish the
United States for its insistence that the commission tell the truth about human rights
abuses wherever they occur. This commission includes some of the world’s premier
human rights violators."
But escaping accountability wasn’t the only reason the United States was
rejected. There were other reasons, having more to do with punishing the U.S. for its
political decisions and diplomatic statements than anything remotely related to the
cause of human rights.
Some nations voted against the United States because of its controversial
positions on such issues as a treaty on land mines and its refusal to support the
International Criminal Court – a decision, by the way, which appears increasingly
judicious right now.
Other nations lashed out against the U.S. because of the Bush
administration’s wise decisions to reject the Kyoto global-warming pact and begin
development of a defensive missile shield (SDI).
Another factor was that certain nations, such as Red China and Communist
Cuba who are frequent targets of American criticism, lobbied against continued U.S.
membership. China was particularly perturbed at the United States for introducing
Resolution L. 13, condemning China for the "severe restrictions" it imposes "on the
rights of citizens to the freedoms of assembly, association, expression, conscience
and religion, and to due legal process and a fair trial."
The irony of the vote is that it will not harm the United States -- whose citizens
enjoy constitutional rights -- but citizens of other nations whose governments
consistently deprive them of basic liberties. President Bush’s national security
adviser, Condoleezza Rice, observed, "The said thing is not for the United States.
The said thing is that the country that has been the beacon for those fleeing tyranny
for 200 years is not on this commission, and Sudan is on this commission. It’s very
bad for those people who are suffering under tyranny around the world, and it is an
While some are wringing their hands at this "terrible blow" to the United
States, my attitude is, "good riddance." I’m gratified that this disgraceful organization
again showed its true colors while the United States is in the midst of weighing its
participation in other international organizations and treaties. (Remember, this is the
body that condemned Israel for violence against Palestinians and gave the
Palestinians a pass.) Maybe this will be a lesson to us about the dangers of
surrendering our sovereignty to nations hostile to our national interests.
Not if the blame-America-first Democratic leadership has anything to say
about it. Instead of condemning the rogue nations responsible, they are exploiting
the incident to score political points against the Bush administration.
Congressman Gephardt issued a statement blaming the United States’ loss
of membership on the Bush administration’s policies regarding Kyoto and SDI. "I
hope the Bush administration shifts course, and learns that our government must
work cooperatively with our allies and other nations when possible to have influence
As usual, Gephardt is 180 degrees out of phase with reality. While he would
have the United States kowtow to outlaw nations in order to gain membership in an
organization that would further compromise our national interests, the Bush
administration is wisely segregating the issue of civil rights from those such as global
warming, SDI and international justice.
Our ouster from the Commission is not our loss, but that of the cause of
human rights and freedom.