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March 16, 2017 11:31 am

Top US Foreign Policy Expert Elliott Abrams: UN Human Rights Council Must Bar Countries That Are Themselves Great Human Rights Violators

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Interview
The meeting room at the UN Human Rights Council headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Ludovic Courtès via Wikimedia Commons.

The meeting room at the UN Human Rights Council headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Ludovic Courtès via Wikimedia Commons.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) this week that it must reform or the US will withdraw from it, Foreign Policy reported.

In an interview with The Algemeiner on Wednesday, Elliott Abrams — a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush — said, “The key reform must be to bar from membership countries that are themselves great human rights violators.”

“The council was created [in 2006] due to the scandalous failings of the UN Human Rights Commission,” Abrams explained. “It was obvious to us in the Bush administration that the council had not cured those failings, so we refused to join. The Obama administration reversed that decision [in 2009].”

“So, there is certainly a precedent for leaving and refusing to participate,” he went on to say. “The usual counter is that our presence ameliorates the problems and allows us to protect Israel. There is some truth to that, but it is also true that our presence lends credence and weight to council’s activities.”

“On balance,” Abrams concluded, “we should not dignify the place with our membership unless it changes, exactly as Secretary Tillerson says.”

Speaking with The Algemeiner earlier this month, two UN experts — both staunch critics of the council — offered divergent views on the wisdom of a potential US pullout from the body.

Claudia Rosett — foreign policy fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum — said, “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 President Barack Obama, she stated, “was wrong to join the council, 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 added.

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.”

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