The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised the Trump Administration boycotting this past week’s session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), a body that is dominated by serial human rights-abusing dictatorships and which has spent most its time passing vicious anti-Israel resolutions which harm Israel’s reputation. The ZOA is urging the Trump Administration to withdraw from membership in the HRC, which is highly unlikely and probably incapable of reforming itself.
The ZOA has also praised more generally the Trump Administration’s efforts to combat the pernicious anti-Israel activities being conducted within the United Nations system.
In particular, the ZOA praises US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who pointed out this week that only one country is subjected to regular scrutiny and condemnation in each of the three annual sessions of the 47-member Geneva-based human rights body, saying, “It’s not Syria, where the regime has systematically slaughtered and tortured its own people … It’s not Iran, where public hangings are a regular occurrence. It’s not North Korea, where the regime uses forced labor camps to crush its people into submission. It’s Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East” (Benny Avni, ‘Team Trump is already kicking butt at the United Nations,’ New York Post, March 20, 2017).
Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson served notice that if the HRC doesn’t cleanse itself of human rights-abusing states and abandon its vicious campaign against Israel, the US could leave the Council. He said, “We’re not taking withdrawal off the table. Our aim is to fix the organization”
(Mark Hensch, ‘Tillerson: UN Human Rights Council must reform or US will leave,’ The Hill, March 14, 2017).
The HRC has not improved after eight years of American membership and active participation. The HRC, formed in 2006 to replace its corrupt and discredited predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, has an in-built majority of squalid dictatorships in which non-democratic African and Asian regimes exercise an unbreakable controlling majority of 26 of the 47 seats. It has eliminated probes into serious human-rights abuses in Belarus, Congo, Cuba, Liberia, and Sudan.
The George W. Bush Administration refused to join it, but the Obama Administration did join it in 2009 in a stated effort to moderate and improve its performance. However, the HRC has remained true to form. For example, US opposition to the HRC-commissioned Goldstone Report, which perverted international legal norms and procedures to find Israel guilty of war crimes in Gaza, did nothing to forestall or ameliorate this demonization of a fellow democracy — or prevent the UN General Assembly from endorsing it.
The HRC’s current membership includes major human rights abusers, including China, Congo, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. None of these nations has ever been the subject of a single Council resolution, let alone a special session. Up until 2016, the HRC adopted 67 resolutions condemning free and democratic Israel –– more than half of the 128 resolutions it passed against the rest of world’s nations combined.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We praise the Trump Administration and Ambassador Haley for their forthright and principled stand against the pernicious bias that permeates the UN system and especially the utterly corrupt Human Rights Council.
“We also praise Secretary of State Tillerson’s statement that the US would withdraw if the HRC fails to completely reform.
“We completely disagree with a number of groups who have argued that, however defective the HRC, US withdrawal would make things worse. These groups claim that the US can better help Israel within the HRC and force the HRC to investigate real human rights abuses elsewhere.
“We disagree. Continued US membership imbues the HRC with utterly undeserved respectability. Worse, the HRC continues its pernicious activities, only now with the aid of US funding.
“There is little use in the US protesting the HRC’s abuses and biases while funding its ongoing operations. The US and Israel do not win in this scenario, only the human rights abusers and Israel’s enemies.
“As Professor Anne Bayefsky, the president of Human Rights Voices and the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, has rightly argued, ‘The 2016 Council resolution calls for the creation of a blacklist of all companies that are connected with or do business with so-called Israeli settlements “directly or indirectly” … The current Council session will reaffirm the blacklist initiative, and various other regular absurdities, such as demanding a return of the Golan Heights to “the Syrian motherland” in order to better protect Syrian human rights. In light of the Council’s composition, there is no chance whatsoever of reversing the outcomes. Merely to whine while being outvoted by a majority of states, for which Israel is either an enemy or a convenient diversionary tactic, would legitimize the vehicle attacking American corporations for doing business with Israel — and our fundamental principles.’”
“The ZOA strongly doubts the HRC will reform itself or is capable of the reform required and accordingly urges the Trump Administration to withdraw the US from the HRC and thus cut off US funding to this pernicious body, which accounts for about a quarter of its annual $70 million funding.”