OpinionWorld Events

US Finally Withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

Another step in the right direction for US foreign policy

Tuesday, July 19, 2018, will be marked as a turning point in US foreign relations, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the withdrawal of the United States from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

In short, the reasoning was quite clear and has been for some time: The United States can not and should not be part of a council that purports to protect human rights internationally while allowing the worst human rights abusers both membership on the council and protection from scrutiny.

Ambassador Haley stated two reasons why the United States was unable to enact much-needed reforms.

First, there are many unfree countries that simply do not want the council to be effective.  A credible Human Rights Council poses a real threat to them, so they oppose the steps that would create it.  Look at the council membership and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic human rights.  ~ Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations

The map above may be found on the UNHRC, reflecting all past and present members of the council in white.  The current membership is listed below, along with the year their membership ends.

Member States

COUNTRYTERM EXPIRES IN
Afghanistan2020
Angola2020
Australia2020
Belgium2018
Brazil2019
Burundi2018
Chile2020
China2019
Côte d’Ivoire2018
Croatia2019
Cuba2019
Democratic Republic of the Congo2020
Ecuador2018
Egypt2019
Ethiopia2018
Georgia2018
Germany2018
Hungary2019
Iraq2019
Japan2019
Kenya2018
Kyrgyzstan2018
Mexico2020
Mongolia2018
Nepal2020
Nigeria2020
Pakistan2020
Panama2018
Peru2020
Philippines2018
Qatar2020
Republic of Korea2018
Rwanda2019
Saudi Arabia2019
Senegal2020
Slovakia2020
Slovenia2018
South Africa2019
Spain2020
Switzerland2018
Togo2018
Tunisia2019
Ukraine2020
United Arab Emirates2018
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland2019
United States of America2019
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)2018

The second reason our reforms didn’t succeed is in some ways even more frustrating.  There are several countries on the Human Rights Council who do share our values.  Many of them strongly urged us to remain engaged in the council.  They are embarrassed by the obsessive mistreatment of Israel.  They share our alarm with the hypocrisy of countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, and others serving on the council.  Ultimately, however, many of these like-minded countries were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo.  We gave them opportunity after opportunity and many months of consultations, and yet they would not take a stand unless it was behind closed doors. ~ Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations

Without expressly mentioning it, there is no doubt UN General Assembly resolution 12028 influenced the decision, even though Ambassador Haley did mention bias against Israel as a primary factor.  Please click the link below for the full text of GA/12028, including member-state comments.

The bias and willful ignorance of the UN membership concerning Israel and Palestine is palpable.  It would take any member less than two minutes to search for and watch videos like the one below to realize the truth concerning the injuries paraded for media consumption.

In that video, Supreme Sharia Judge and Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, clearly states the intent and instruction given by Hamas: “You Palestinians, our people, go and die so that we’ll go to the TV and media with strong declarations.”  Nonetheless, when the Palestinians dutifully obey Hamas and become victims as a result of their own violent actions, Israel is blamed for acting in self-defense.

A fair comparison between Israel and the Palestinians would be someone who swats at flies, or maybe even more appropriate, someone who kills a mosquito.  Flies are merely a nuisance, whereas a mosquito can kill if it’s carrying a disease.  One mosquito may seem harmless, but it can wreak irreversible havoc if it’s allowed to spread its disease.  It may seem unfair for someone to kill a small mosquito, especially since the mosquito didn’t create the disease, but the mosquito wouldn’t be killed if it wasn’t trying to bite the individual who killed it.

From Secretary Pompeo’s opening remarks, “The United States, which leads the world in humanitarian assistance and whose service members have sacrificed life and limb to free millions from oppression and tyranny, will not take lectures from hypocritical bodies and institutions as America selflessly give [sic] their blood and treasure to help the defenseless,” it is also fairly evident that the misleading comments (relevant excerpt below) made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (of Jordan), also influenced the decision.

In the United States, I am deeply concerned by recently adopted policies which punish children for their parents’ actions.

In the past six weeks, nearly two thousand children have been forcibly separated from their parents. The American Association of Pediatrics has called this cruel practice “government-sanctioned child abuse” which may cause “irreparable harm,” with “lifelong consequences”. The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable. I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children, and I encourage the Government to at last ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in order to ensure that the fundamental rights of all children, whatever their administrative status, will be at the centre of all domestic laws and policies.

Although it’s tragic when it’s necessary to separate any child from a parent, it is always done in instances where an adult is incarcerated for breaking the law.  A child never accompanies a parent who has been placed in custody, whether it’s jail or prison.  The same is true for parents of children who have broken the law.  Parent dson’t accompany their children to juvenile detention.  That is precisely what should happen at the US border.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Anyone who enters this country illegally, child or adult, is already a criminal.  Period.  If they don’t want to be treated as a criminal, they should abstain from criminal activities.

As an important side note, it would appear the children are being cared for very humanely, as seen in the CNN video below.   And, allowances are made on a case by case basis regarding separations, but that’s not the way it’s being reported in most instances.

The Trump administration made the right decision to the leave the UNHRC, just as it made the right decision to cut funding for UNRWA earlier this year.  But, more needs to be done to take a stand against UN bias against what is truly just.  If the US is unable to influence real change, it’s time to withdraw from the UN altogether.

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