The Atlantic: Nikki Haley 'Has a Point' About UN Human Rights Council

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Posted: Jun 22, 2018 9:00 AM
The Atlantic: Nikki Haley 'Has a Point' About UN Human Rights Council

The Trump administration said goodbye to the United Nations Human Rights Council last week, because it hasn't lived up to its name.

"If the Human Rights Council is going to attack countries that uphold human rights and shield countries that abuse human rights, then America should not provide it with any credibility," U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley informed the council Monday.

In particular, the White House was fed up with the UNHRC's long history of bias against Israel. In its history, the council has passed several resolutions against Israel. In fact, it has introduced more resolutions condemning Israel than against the rest of the world combined. The council's Agenda Item 7 also puts a target on Israel's back, singling out the nation for censure. It mandates that a discussion of Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians must be part of every council session.

"There is no legitimate human rights reason for this agenda item to exist," Haley said, adding that the council was only interested in its political agenda.

The Atlantic, not exactly a source of Trump support, couldn't blame the administration for their decision, pointing out that the council's makeup is a major flaw.

"Although this geographical quota system addresses the disparities in global representation, it is also the Council’s most serious flaw," Krishnadev Calamur writes. "With a few honorable exceptions, the overwhelming majority of countries outside the Western Europe and others grouping have flawed-to-abysmal human-rights records and policies. Many are not democracies. Few have representative governments. Fewer still have an incentive to pursue and commit to universal human rights. That these are the countries that criticize Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is bad enough; that they do it while pursuing their own draconian policies makes the membership laughable."   

Calamur provides proof by listing some of the eyebrow-raising nations with membership cards.

"Consider the current members of the Council: Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro has strangled the political opposition and free speech; the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies have resulted in extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers; Ethiopia, where a state of emergency in place since February gives the government draconian powers that it wields liberally; Cuba, where the idea of human rights have been discarded for decades; Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s policies have targeted the media, the opposition, civil-society groups, and immigrants; Saudi Arabia, where widespread abuses and arbitrary arrests continue; China, which has long stifled dissent; and Egypt, which has effectively banned any criticism of the government."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made the same observations.

"The Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy – with many of the world’s worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world’s most serious offenders sitting on the council itself," he said.

The UN's most recent bias against Israel was on display when the U.S. embassy officially opened in Jerusalem last month. Israeli forces warned Palestinian protesters not to storm the Israeli-Gaza border, but they approached anyway - some armed. Several were shot by IDF. Still, by an overwhelming tally of 120 to 8, the members declared that Israel was guilty of “excessive use of force” against Palestinians. 

Obama kept the U.S. on the council with hopes we could still have an influence on human rights around the world, but the Trump administration considers the council's Israel bias "far too great a divide to bridge," Calamur explains.