By Steve Berman
She called on the UN to make two key changes:
- “Act to keep the worst human rights abusers form obtaining seats on the Council.”
- “Agenda Item Seven must be removed.” This is the permanent item that singles out Israel for condemnation.
On the first item, Haley recited a litany of abuses by sitting members of the Council, including Venezuela and Cuba. She called Cuba’s jaw-dropping hypocrisy “a reversal of the truth that would make George Orwell blush.”
She singled out Russia, Zimbabwe, and North Korea; and accused China, Burundi and Saudi Arabia of failing to “uphold the highest standards” of human rights. “They clearly do not uphold those highest standards,” she said.
Citing former Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s 2005 disbanding of the erstwhile Human Rights Commission, Haley levied the same charges against the new body that was supposed to fix the problems of the discredited body.
These problems were supposed to have been fixed when the new Council was formed. Sadly, the case against the Human Rights Council today looks an awful lot like the case against the discredited Human Rights Commission over a decade ago.
Once again, over half the current member countries fail to meet basic human rights standards as measured by Freedom House.
And she closed with an implied threat.
For our part, the United States will not sit quietly while this body, supposedly dedicated to human rights, continues to damage the cause of human rights.
She called on America’s allies—“likeminded countries”—to join her call for reform.
Let the world be on notice: We will never give up the cause of universal human rights. Whether it’s here, or in other venues, we will continue this fight.
Like the Paris Accords, the Human Rights Council is nothing more than a cover for globalists to seek legitimacy and despots to do as they please; it’s proclamations are without effect, and it statements without power. The U.S. should have nothing to do with it.
In the question and answer session following the speech, however, Haley pulled her punches.
“America does not seek to leave the Human Rights Council,” Ms. Haley said. “We seek to re-establish the council’s legitimacy.” Pressed by the audience, she would not commit to staying or leaving.
Some organizations believe that, even with these egregious problems, the U.S. should stick with the HRC.
Eight rights organizations wrote to Ms. Haley last month highlighting the importance of the United States’ leadership role and its ability to change the council’s practices and its approach toward Israel.
They pointed out that during the Bush years, America’s ability to influence the Council was at its nadir. But former President Obama’s terms helped the Council focus on other issues than Israel. One could argue that the Council didn’t see Israel as a necessary target since Obama’s own policies (and in the Security Council) seemed to take care of that checkbox.
“What is certain is that the departure of the U.S. from the Human Rights Council would only result in worse, and perhaps even pernicious, outcomes,” the rights organizations said in their letter.
Israeli officials are not so convinced. They believe (and I agree) that the structure and form of the HRC are too corrupted to be corrected from within, unless and until Haley’s demands are met.
“The US should present the Council with an ultimatum: Either Item 7 goes or we go,” Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren told The Times of Israel in a recent interview*. The organization would still be heavily biased against Israel, he added, “but at least it would not condemn us three times a year automatically.”*
However, Oren said at the time that the Council cannot be reformed from the inside, urging the US to leave. “By being there, the US and like-minded countries are only legitimizing an inherently anti-Semitic organization. I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but wanting to reform the UNHRC is like wanting to reforming the BDS [Boycott, Divest and Sanction] movement from the inside.”
The UN as a whole teeters on the brink of irrelevancy—especially in the Trump era, where multilateral cooperative deals are definitely out of favor. The HRC has zero credibility for the supposed purpose for which it was created. Why should the U.S. continue to lend it legitimacy?
Ambassador Haley, your message should be received as: Get right or America gets out.