With US Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council Under Consideration, Critics of Body, Known for Its Anti-Israel Bias, Differ on Wisdom of Such a Move
With the Trump administration reportedly considering withdrawing the US from the UN Human Rights Council, two experts — both staunch critics of the body, which is know for its vehement anti-Israel bias — offered different views to The Algemeiner this week on the wisdom of making such a move.
Claudia Rosett — foreign policy fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum — told The Algemeiner, “The UN Human Rights Council is rotten at the core, a travesty and betrayal of many of the real victims of humans-rights abuses; a magnet and a vehicle for despotisms that seek not to stop human rights abuses, but to legitimize them.”
Former US President Barack Obama, she went on to say, “was wrong to join the council [in 2009], and his administration’s promises to reform the council from within have turned out, predictably enough, to be baloney.”
“It would be an excellent move by the Trump administration to leave the UN Human Rights Council, and explain clearly and in full why it is a body that does not deserve to be dignified by US membership,” she concluded.
Hillel Neuer — executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch NGO — took a different approach, saying, “Walking out of the morally corrupt UN Human Rights Council sounds like a simple solution, and would feel good, but probably only make things worse.”
“The UNHRC is a dangerous place that, like it or not, successfully uses the appearance of international legitimacy to influence hearts and minds worldwide,” he continued. “If we care about what university professors teach our students, and how other establishment institutions influence our society, we need to understand how the UNHRC affects these elites, and has contributed to subverting society’s idea of human rights, to make questioning of Islamism taboo, and to demonize Israel.”
“When the US left the UNHRC from 2006 to 2009, nothing got better,” Neuer pointed out. “The UNHRC only got worse, and it began sending its anti-Israel reports to the International Criminal Court, a material threat to Israeli leaders and officers that is designed to cripple the Jewish state.”
“Also,” he added, “there’s a reason that France, Russia, China and every other world power invests time, money and political capital to campaign for a seat at the UN Human Rights Council — because they see a national interest in gaining influence in a consequential world body. If President Trump wants to be a winner, it would be foolish to abandon the coveted 3-year term that [the US] just won a few months ago.”
In testimony delivered to the US Congress last month, Neuer called for the appointment of an American ambassador to the UNHRC who would be a vocal advocate of human rights and a defender of Israel.
On Wednesday, Deputy US Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Erin Barclay addressed the council at its Geneva headquarters and called on it to end its “obsession with Israel” — which she described as “the largest threat to the council’s credibility.”
America, Barclay stated, “will oppose any effort to delegitimize or isolate Israel — not just in the [UNHRC], but wherever it occurs. When it comes to human rights, no country should be free from scrutiny — but neither should any democratic country be regularly subjected to unfair, unbalanced, and unfounded bias.”
The following day, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) praised Barclay, hailing in a letter her “strong denunciation” of “this biased and one-sided body.”
The WJC, the letter continued, is “deeply committed to the values of universal human rights and respect for human dignity. We believe that the Human Rights Council is an important mechanism within the United Nations, but are troubled and concerned that this particular council has lost direction and become fixated on singling out Israel for condemnation. Since its establishment, this council has approved a record-breaking number of resolutions condemning Israel — more than 65 resolutions, or over half of all country-specific resolutions.”
“The World Jewish Congress will continue to speak out against the UNHRC as long as this bias against Israel remains. We support the calls voiced both in the United States and other countries denouncing the UNHRC over this bias, and look forward to the day when the United Nations Human Rights Council resumes its focus on protecting human rights worldwide,” the letter concluded.