The world's worst human rights abusers continue to get pass from UN Human Rights Council




The world's worst human rights abusers continue to get pass from UN Human Rights Council

BY Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman

Thursday, March 31st 2011

The next U.S.-led no fly zone should be established around UN headquarters in Geneva. For even as we put more service members in harm's way and further deplete America's treasure to do away with Moammar Khadafy, America continues to validate the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), a body devoted to shielding, not exposing, tyrants like the Libyan strongman.

And the State Department has just announced that America will seek a second term on the council.

Our government's continuing support for the UNHRC comes clinically close to Einstein's definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Just take the UNHRC's latest antics, which are worthy of a Marx Brothers' routine - except for the tragic implications. Almost at the same time, the council finally suspended Libya because of universal revulsion at Khadafy's mowing down his own people, a UNHRC report praised Tripoli's human rights record. And the council is poised to issue a report giving Syria its good housekeeping seal - even as President Bashar Assad employs Khadafy-like brutalities on his nation.

The current round of human rights wrongs began in 2010, when Libya won a seat on the council, just one year after the U.S. rejoined the UNHRC - ending the Bush administration boycott. The argument was we could do more to serve the cause of human dignity as "a team player" working inside the UN system.

It hasn't happened.

The world's worst human rights abusers - including Iran, Sudan, China and Cuba - have effectively controlled the UNHRC agenda to protect themselves and their allies from the global spotlight on their human rights abuses and to produce whitewashed clean bills of health. And at the same time, the tyranny of a tyrannical majority never missed a beat in piling nonstop one-sided resolutions on Israel condemning the Jewish state - never Hezbollah or Hamas terrorists - for "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." The campaign to demonize and disarm Jerusalem culminated in the recent Goldstone Report, whose demands would degrade Israel's ability to defend her civilians from state and nonstate terrorist onslaughts like those being launched from Gaza's Hamastan.

Left to their own devices, future UNHRC reports could condemn the "illegality" of drone attacks against Al Qaeda and the Taliban ordered by President Obama.

Meanwhile, horrific human rights abuses from Cuba to China never see the light of day in Geneva.

Our administration's decision to keep playing the human rights game by UN rules is, at the very least, premature. Unless and until that body shows the integrity to become an empathetic sounding board for a powerless 49-year-old Sri Lankan maid tortured by her Saudi masters, for innocents languishing in Cuban jails or North Korean camps, for a Free Tibet activist, for an Iranian democracy campaigner, for gays and religious minorities in the Arab world, America has no business doing business with the UNHRC.

In the context of the upheavals across the Arab world, America's decision to go along with the UNHRC reveals an unforced error of epic proportions. While the U.S. was busy caucusing with diplomats from Egyptian, Iranian and Syrian regimes, we were deaf, dumb and blind to heroic pro-democracy activists, who bypassed diplomatic niceties and took to the streets to change their destiny.

The best way for Obama to signal he is finally serious about standing with the millions putting their lives on the line for freedom is not by sitting in Geneva for another term, but by vacating our seat at the UNHRC - a place that represents everything wrong in global human rights.

Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Harold Brackman is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.