U.S. Bids to Join UN Human Rights Council

Written by Ann Shibler on April 06 2009.

President ObamaPresident Obama has sent the United Nations Human Rights Council notice that the United States will be bidding for one of three empty regional seats in May, as part of his “new era of engagement,” with the international world.

Obama’s administration admits that the UN’s HRC has been less than a champion of human rights, but by joining, the United States can achieve a better balance and redirect the focus of the organization. That’s the theory, anyway.

The United States is a shoo-in because New Zealand has agreed to withdraw its own bid in order to ensure America’s entry, along with Belgium and Norway. The United States will have a three-year term, with one vote and no veto at the Geneva-based headquarters.

Obama defended his decision saying it would “advance America’s security interests.” Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N stated, "The U.S. is seeking election to the Council because we believe that working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights."

Madame Secretary of State Clinton stated, “Human rights are an essential element of American global foreign policy. With others, we will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system to advance the vision of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights. We believe every nation must live by and help shape global rules that ensure people enjoy the right to live freely and participate fully in their societies.”

But there are critics and then of course, there is the actual record of the UN’s HRC.

Ex-ambassador John Bolton denounced the decision, saying, "This is like getting on board the Titanic after it's hit the iceberg... There is no concrete American interest served by this, and it legitimizes something that doesn't deserve legitimacy."

The HRC has a more than dismal record. Supposedly in put place to promote human rights across the globe through scrutiny of member states, instead it has upheld the rights of the abusers by failing to condemn or outright ignoring the biggest transgressors of human rights.

In 2007 the HRC passed, bypassing regular procedures under highly irregular circumstances, "institution-building” measure 1503 that makes it harder to adopt country-specific resolutions against abusers, thereby weakening any effect it might have had.

Case in point: China.

In February 2009 China’s human rights record was examined under the Universal Periodic Review of the HRC.
A report on China was completed but the issues of political and religious persecution were left untouched.

Instead, China was allowed to tout it's economic and educational advancements. The head of the Chinese delegation, Li Bao, in a burst of national pride said: “Huge investment has also been made to protect the religious practices, cultural identities and other heritages of ethnic minorities,” while back home, the Chinese government was busy suppressing and oppressing the Tibetans, Mongols, Uighurs, practitioners of Falun Gong, and Internet users and journalists.

Country after country and speaker after speaker sang the glories of human rights conditions in China. Algeria decried the politicization of China’s record, while Egypt approved China’s excessive use of the death penalty, and troubled Sudan lauded China’s “re-education” labor program.

The conclusion was that everything’s fine in China. No resolution was passed against that country’s well-known human rights violations.

In fact, on April 1, Chinese bosses have vowed to “severely crack down on any separatist activities” by Tibetans who refuse to stay “emancipated.” They were liberated you know, in 1959 by Communist Zhao Enlai. China’s  “death vans” are becoming more commonplace, and there’s another arrest of a Catholic bishop. And the beat goes on, but the HRC looks the other way.

Focus on Cuba, Belarus, North Korea, and Zimbabwe was also redirected under 1503, thereby eliminating the horror of abuses in those countries from ever being discussed.

The UN’s HRC is a forum for polemics and nothing more, having no real bite in the resolutions they do pass. Members do not take human rights violations seriously. The United States should never enter into any engagement with such a fraudulent board, and should sever it’s ties with the UN altogether, posthaste.

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