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New U.N. Rights Council Sticks to Same-Old, 'Bash-Israel' Agenda

July 13, 2006 By:
Anne Bayefsky
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The credibility of the flagship of U.N. "reform" -- aka, the newly created Human Rights Council -- sunk during its very first session, which ended June 30. The deck chairs on the Titanic had simply been rearranged when the Council replaced the discredited Human Rights Commission.

Serial human-rights abusers were elected members from the get-go. Nevertheless, the Bush administration's decision to vote against the council, along with Israel and only two other states, was widely condemned as a sign of American disdain for multilateralism, disinterest in the welfare of human-rights protection and a personal failure of United States U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Support for the council also came from Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth, who called it a "historic step towards enhanced human rights protection." Amnesty International proclaimed it a "victory."

The widespread misrepresentation of the council made its self-immolation in its first two weeks of operation even more striking. The Human Rights Council is the U.N.'s lead human-rights body, and examples of egregious human-rights violations should not have been hard to find.

In Darfur, three-quarters of a million people lie beyond humanitarian reach, 2.5 million people have been displaced by violence, 385,000 people remain in immediate risk of starvation, and more than 2 million are dead after years of bloodshed and deprivation.

But it wasn't genocide in Sudan that interested the Human Rights Council. Nor was it a billion Chinese without civil and political rights. Not 13 million women in Saudi Arabia, whose lives depend on hiding from sight in public places and never being caught behind the wheel of an automobile.

Not the dire human-rights conditions of 23 million people in North Korea. Not Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's incitement to genocide or his country's legal system, which includes crucifixion, stoning and amputation.

No, there was only one country singled out by the U.N. Human Rights Council -- and that was Israel.

The council decided that the program for the first session should focus discussion on five issues; the first one being the "human-rights situation in the occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine."

The council placed criticism of Israel permanently on the agenda of all future sessions. It gave only the special investigator on Israel what amounted to a permanent mandate. And on its final day, the agency passed just one resolution condemning human-rights violations by any of the 192 U.N. members, and directed it at Israel.

When it was all over, the council decided to hold its first special (emergency) session within the next few days -- on Israel.

It's now clear that there are only 12 countries on the council -- or one-quarter of its members who are prepared to stand together as democracies. And just as Ambassador Bolton foresaw, U.S. membership on the council would not have made any difference to these outcomes.

At the Commission, over a 40-year period, some 30 percent of the resolutions condemning human-rights violations by specific states were directed at Israel. The council is now batting 1.000. And given a behind-the-scenes deal not to have any country-specific resolutions at least in the first year of operation (with the exception of Israel), that figure is not likely to change any time soon.

Perhaps one of the most insidious features of the U.N. world is the idea that the demonization of Israel is the reasonable price of doing business at the U.N. Human Rights Watch, expressing "concern" about the Israel-bashing, for example, but concluding that "the first session of the new U.N. Human Rights council was largely successful in laying a foundation for its future work."

The spectacle of discrimination and double-standards applied to the Jewish state and unmistakably aimed at its delegitimization and destruction, however, may not strike congressional leaders the same way. After all, 22 percent of the costs of the Human Rights Council and its special session to come are paid for by the American taxpayer.

The original mission of the United Nations was rooted in the legacy of the Holocaust -- the shield of "never again," and the lance of human-rights protection. We are witnesses to the hijacking of the organization to serve the purveyors of bigotry and hate. Continuing support -- financial or otherwise -- for this travesty should no longer be an option.

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, professor at Touro Law Center and editor of: www.EYEontheUN.org.

 

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