One of the many questionable foreign policy decisions made by the Obama administration was to join the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Obama administration reversed the Bush administration’s policy of ignoring the council, which tolerates unsavory regimes and affords them influence over the body’s decision making. It is this very same council, made up of mostly repressive regimes, that currently sits in judgment of Israel. The council saturates the media with reports of alleged Israeli sins, including a condemnation of Israel for the Turkish flotilla incident, and the Goldstone report which blamed Israel for Gaza turmoil in 2008.
Of the 47 countries represented on the U.N. Human Rights Council, 13 are African (none of which are democracies), 13 Asian, (only Japan , S. Korea, and Thailand could be categorized as democracies), 8 Latin American and Caribbean (including non-democratic Cuba), 6 East European (including non-democratic Russia and Moldova) and 7 Western (free and open democracies). There are also 13 Muslim majority states and 6 Arab states, (needless to say – not democratic). As all U.N. agencies elect members who are part of a regional group, Israel has no chance of being part of this, or any council. Therefore, amongst the “paragons of virtuous human rights observing countries” on the council are China, Cuba, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, Qatar, and of course, the “most virtuous,” Saudi Arabia. The Vice President of the U.N. Council on Human Rights is Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez of the “great democracy” of Cuba. In sum, of the 47 states that make up the council, only 20 could be considered democracies who respect human rights. The 27 others represent a variety of repressive governments.
The Geneva-based Human Rights Council was established in March 2006 to replace the 60-year-old Human Rights Commission, which lost international credibility after countries with abysmal rights records, such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, were allowed to join and, subsequently thwart criticism of their actions.
The Obama appointed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, justified the administration’s decision to join the council by declaring that: “Those who suffer from abuse and oppression around the world, as well as those who dedicate their lives to advancing human rights, need the council to be balanced and credible.” She said the United States seeks election to the body “because we believe that working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights.” Contrary to Ambassador Rice’s assertion, many of the member countries are oppressors who abuse their people. Furthermore, these oppressive, non-democratic countries are a majority in the council – so how can any legislation emerge that could correct the abuses they enacted?