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June 25, 2018 8:51 am

Leaving the UN Human Rights Council Was the Right Decision

avatar by Yoram Ettinger


Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announce the American withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, June 19, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Toya Sarno Jordan.

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the one hand and human rights on the other hand constitute a classic oxymoron, as underlined by the Council’s member states.

Moreover, since its establishment in 2006 — and just like its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights — the UNHRC has been dominated by non-democratic regimes that have been hostile to the US.

For example, the anti-US, pro-ayatollah member-state Venezuela has robbed its opposition-led legislature of any effective power, jailing political opponents and prosecuting civilians in military courts. Likewise, the Democratic Republic of Congo is ruled by a ruthless president who is holding on to power beyond the constitutionally mandated two-term limit while repressing, silencing, and murdering opponents.

Pakistan features a proliferation of military courts, a lack of accountability for human rights violations, the absence of a free press, no tolerance of religious minorities and women’s rights, and fertile ground for anti-US Islamic terrorism. Another member of the UNHRC is Burundi, which has been accused by the UNHRC itself of crimes against humanity, and refuses to cooperate with the UNHRC investigation. Burundi is ruled by a president whose term has been extended beyond constitutional limits and whose security organs have followed a routine of kidnapping, torture, arbitrary arrests, and executions. The repressive Cuban regime, also a member of the UNHRC, boasts of the arbitrary arrests of opposition leaders, human rights leaders, and free press activists.

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Other member-states of the UNHRC, despite their non-democratic regimes and questionable-to-horrendous track records on human rights, include Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, the Ivory Coast, Angola, Iraq, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Tunisia, Qatar, China, etc.

The US withdrawal from the UNHRC exposed the reality of the Council, which leveraged US participation to legitimize anti-US regimes and undermine US interests throughout the globe, all while advancing the interests of US rivals and enemies.

The US withdrawal has sent a message to the UN and other entities that have benefited from US commercial and military support: US participation in and support of global initiatives should not be taken for granted, but will be preconditioned upon proper and legitimate conduct.

Such a policy is consistent with the US departure from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear agreement), which rewarded the anti-US ayatollahs with immediate, tangible, sweeping benefits in return for verbal, intangible gestures. The US departure from the 2015 nuclear agreement and the UNHRC will bolster confidence among US allies and deter rogue regimes, thus reducing the scope of global instability and violence.

The US withdrawal also sends a message to the UN, raising somber doubts about the future of US financial support for that organization unless the UN deviates from its modus operandi, which has aided anti-US rogue regimes and organizations while the UN enjoys the hospitality and financial generosity of the US.

Quitting the UNHRC enhances the interests of the US and the free world.

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of “Second Thought: a U.S.-Israel initiative.”

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