Time to leave the Human Rights Council

By: Noah Pollak, POLITICO

Among the first things the Obama administration did to break from the
“unilateral” policies of the Bush administration was to join the United
Nations Human Rights Council, which the U.S. shunned when it was formed in 2006. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that “we will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system.” U.N. ambassador Susan Rice declared that we were joining “because we believe that working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights.”

Now, almost a year and a half later, the Council remains as it ever was: a body composed of some of the worst human rights abusers in the world, devoted to attacking Western democracies, demonizing Israel, covering up the abuses of authoritarian regimes, and undermining the pursuit of human rights. The only difference today is that America’s name is being lent to this effort.

The administration’s desire for cooperation and engagement at the U.N. has led to acquiescence and even active involvement in a number of unsavory proceedings. The United States co-sponsored a “freedom of expression” resolution with a dictatorship, Egypt, which in effect endorses the suppression of free speech. When Libya and other authoritarians were elected to the Council, Ambassador Rice refused to say whether the U.S. had opposed their admission. When the Syrian representative claimed that Israeli children “sing merrily as they go to school, and I quote, ‘With my teeth I will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood,’” the U.S. representative made no protest. This summer, the U.S. voted for a resolution that seemed to absolve Iran of human rights abuses.

One of the Council’s flagship projects has been promoting the Goldstone Report on last year’s war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. The Council is now pushing forward with a second phase that seeks to “implement” the findings of the report. This new effort will attack the very legitimacy of the Israeli legal system and declare Israel unfit to conduct its own investigations, opening the door to the involvement of the International Criminal Court.

There is a longstanding tradition in international law of deference in legal matters to national courts and governments. As enshrined in the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Criminal Court, and in customary international law, states are given primacy in investigating and prosecuting misconduct during war — one recent example being the U.S. military’s prosecutions of abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. It is only in cases where there is no state authority, or a state refuses to investigate credible allegations of large-scale atrocities, that international bodies may be entitled to get involved.

These rules are an obstacle to the Council, because Israel’s legal system, both civil and military, conducts rigorous investigations into allegations of wrongdoing. It ranks with those of the leading liberal democracies as one of the most professional and independent in the world. Thus, the task before the Council is to produce a deeply biased document that provides a fig leaf of credibility to the claim that outside investigations are warranted.

Why is it likely that the Council’s new panel will conclude that Israel’s
military justice system is illegitimate? It is led by a German radical named Christian Tomuschat, who performed legal advisory work for Yasser Arafat in 1996, and in 2002 wrote that Israel’s targeted killings of terrorists — the same policy the United States currently employs in Afghanistan and Pakistan — means that Israel “uses the same tactics as the terrorists themselves.” He also accused Israel of “ordering the systematic commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Furthermore, Tomuschat has written that when it comes to fighting terrorism, “there is little hope that the judicial system of the state concerned will conduct effective investigations and punish the responsible agents.”

So the Council’s new “investigation” is a foreordained farce intended to
slander Israel, restrict its right to self-defense, and weaken its
international standing. Congress funds 22 percent of the Council’s activities. Is it right to collude in allowing a democratic ally to become an international punching bag for activists who are only prevented from treating us the same way by virtue of our greater power? And should the United States help promote the idea that one of the most important and effective national security tools we employ — targeted killings — is an act of state terrorism that must be prosecuted by international courts?

The Obama administration joined the U.N. Human Rights Council with high hopes. But the Council has proven too hostile to democratic values to be reformed. It is time that the administration abandoned the Council. And it is time that Congress stopped funding it.

*Noah Pollak is executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel.*

August 19, 2010 | 4 Comments »

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. Missing the forest for the trees:

    Obama is not only a muslim in name, he is using the muslim doctrine of deceit to hide the fact that he is a muslim in both faith and action. I expect that soon after he leaves office, he will openly declare himself to be a muslim (similar to Tony Blair’s conversion to catholicism).

    Obama is working to destroy traditional white christian conservative America from within. He does this from several fronts: he denigrates christianity and glorifies islam. He denigrates white christian conservatives, particularly the middle class, by destroying their jobs and replacing them with (socialized) government jobs which are preferentially given to non-whites. And he floods America with illegal non-white immigrants, and forbids the government from going after them.

    On the international front, he pursues the track of destroying America as a nation-state able to act to preserve its own interests on the world stage. He does this by weakening the military by having them fight costly unwinnabble wars, and by refusing to use the military against the real enemies of America. And he uses “free trade” to continue to destroy the American economy and make America totally dependent on borrowing foreign meoney. And he insists American foreign policy should be dictated by our liberal european “allies” and most importantly, by the UN.

    It’s his ultimate goal to surrender American sovereignty altogether to the UN (and I guess he would like to be president of the UN as well as president of the world). He loves the UN and its “Human Rights” Council, and would gladly have what is left of the white conservative christian middle class pay even more to support it, if he could figure out how.

    And one of his favorite hobbies is plotting the ultimate destruction of Jewish Israel. His current plan is to divide the Israeli government (favoring Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak, and Shimon Peres over Netanyahu and Lieberman), and passively allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear arsenal to destroy Jewish Israel (with the assistance of Hizbolla and Hamas), while forbidding Jewish Israel to take any pre-emptive action against Iran.

    It’s an impressive list of achievements from such a mild-mannered guy. And it’s a testament to how much you can get done by nudging things in the direction you want, without stirring up much opposition, instead of stating your goals openly and actively fighting for them.

    And again, it is not so much Obama per se. Bush and the Republicans brought America to the edge of the cliff, and Obama and the liberals are taking us over the edge. And the end result is that traditional America is being destroyed, and will soon become a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, welfare state (ruled by the super-rich), similar to Mexico.

  2. Where is the UN?

    Who pays for the bulk of the operating cost of the UN?

    The UN would not be in NYC and America would not be the main financier of the UN unless Americ didn’t want the UN to be in NYC.

    Who supported and put the money up for the UN? JD Rockefeller! That should say it all.

  3. It’d past time for Israel to leave the den of vipers!

    Uncle, I’ll second that motion. In fact both Israel and the US should leave the UN period. Close up shop and force the UN to move the headquarters elsewhere. How about Saudi Arabia or Dubai where the rest of the clowns are.

    What has the UN done for Israel other than being critical of every move they make. The UN is a farce and should be recognized as such.
    A stage for the idiots and scumbags of the world to grand stand. A joke.