The United States has refused to join the United Nations Human Rights Council since it was birthed in 2006 following the dissolving of its failed predecessor, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The Obama Administration changed course in March 2009 and now, for the first time, has submitted a report on the status of human rights in the U.S. to the Council, setting up the country to be judged by governments like those of Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar, Pakistan and Egypt.
The U.S. report for the Council’s Universal Periodic Review states that the country’s participation is not a declaration of solidarity with “states that systematically abuse human rights…There is no comparison between American democracy and repressive states.” It is for this very reason that the U.S. should not be legitimizing the Council with its inclusion and subjecting the country to being judged by the non-democratic member states.
The slightest admission of fault by the U.S. will be amplified and used as a reason for condemnation. The report offers statistics about inequality for African-Americans, Hispanics, the disabled, homosexuals and Native Americans that will be used to reinforce anti-American propaganda class warfare rhetoric about capitalism causing oppression and racism. It also mentions Arizona’s controversial immigration law as a human rights issue, which Governor Jan Brewer has called “downright offensive.”
The report says the government is dedicating to fighting discrimination against Muslims and Arabs, inferring that a serious problem exists rather than boasting of the admirable restraint of the American people following the 9⁄11 attacks or the economic success of Muslims in the country. The FBI has found that the number of hate crimes directed at Muslims since 9⁄11 has sharply declined, with 10 times as many anti-Semitic incidents happening in 2008. There are actually more crimes committed against Jews, homosexuals and even Caucasians than Muslims. This is something that should be emphasized, but instead the narrative among those that use hate crimes, both real and fabricated, to frighten the Muslim world goes unchallenged.
The U.S. participation in the Human Rights Council has already been used to legitimize anti-democratic sentiments. The U.S. sponsored a “freedom of expression” resolution with Egypt that condemned “negative religious stereotyping.” Almost identical language was used by the Organization of the Islamic Conference to declare that “negative stereotyping or defamation of religions was a modern expression of religious hatred and xenophobia.” The resolution can thus be used as a weapon to accuse those that criticize radical Islam of being anti-Muslim.
If there is any doubt that the Council will be used as a platform against the West, the activity of the Council’s predecessor, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, should be reviewed. Enemies of Israel banned the country from regional meetings and more resolutions were passed condemning Israel than all other countries combined. Already, the Council has condemned Israel on numerous occasions and remains silent on the human rights abuses of countries that are truly oppressive.
Michael Dickson of Stand With Us, an organization that sent me on a 10-day trip to Israel as part of its Once in a Lifetime blogger contest, told FrontPage that Israelis are concerned about the U.S. membership in the Council.
“There is a profound worry that US participation on the Human Rights Council gives legitimacy to a body which is led by some of the worst human rights abusing nations in the world. The UNHRC is a sum of its parts and its politicized rulings have seen Israel singled out for unfair criticism; that should worry the US and everyone who really believes in human rights values,” Dickson said.
The Council is preparing for anti-Israel action as the U.S. submits its report. The body is planning to “implement” the Goldstone Report under the leadership of Christian Tomuschat, a former advisor to Yasser Arafat who has accused Israel of “ordering the systematic commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
The Obama Administration argues that it can best effect change by becoming part of the Human Rights Council. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice says that they believe that by “working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights.” However, as the Heritage Foundation’s Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves have observed, the Council has not been positively influenced and is “virtually indistinguishable from its performance absent U.S. membership.”
This is partly because the Obama Administration has not even tried to use its place in the Council to confront human rights abuses. For example, as Noah Pollack mentions, the U.S. did not say a word 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. pays for 22 percent of the Council’s budget, yet has not brought any pressure to make sure its money doesn’t go for anti-American purposes.
By making the U.S. accountable to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the Obama Administration is going to allow the country to be condemned by the very body it is trying to legitimize and influence. It is not the interest of the U.S. to cater to an institution whose agenda is decided by undemocratic, oppressive regimes and it is even more unproductive to issue a report about America’s human rights for those same regimes to judge. The Human Rights Council is an institution that should be dramatically changed if not disbanded, not honored or funded by American tax dollars.