US mulls leaving UN Human Rights Council

Of all the useless international organizations under UN auspices, the Human Rights Council may be the most ridiculous. 

Now, the Trump administration is seriously considering canceling US participation on the council, protesting its blatant anti-Israel bias and a membership of countriers that make up some of the worst human rights abusers on the planet.


A final decision on membership in the council would likely involve Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and of course the president himself.

A former State Department official briefed on the discussions said while the council's targeting of Israel is likely part of the debate, there also are questions about its roster of members and doubts about its usefulness overall.

Countries known for human rights abuses, such as China and Saudi Arabia, have managed to snag seats on the 47-member council.

"There’s been a series of requests coming from the secretary of state's office that suggests that he is questioning the value of the U.S. belonging to the Human Rights Council," the former official said.

In a recent meeting with mid-level State Department officials, Tillerson expressed skepticism about the council, which has a number of powers, including the ability to establish panels that probe alleged human rights abuses.

A spokesman for Haley did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday. White House press aides also did not immediately offer comment.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner did not address whether U.S. membership on the council was being reconsidered, but said, "Our delegation will be fully involved in the work of the HRC session which starts Monday."

The Human Rights Council was established in 2006. It replaced the U.N. Human Rights Commission, which had faced severe criticism because countries with poor rights records became members and prevented it from carrying out its mission to the fullest.

The Bush administration refused to join the new council, questioning whether it would be much different. But under President Barack Obama, the U.S. felt it was more useful to be part of the council and try to influence it from the inside, including by speaking out in support of Israel.

Still, supporters of Israel have accused the council of being overly focused on the Jewish-majority state, by pushing critical resolutions, for example.

An extraordinarily large number of members of the Human Rights Council have no business judging whether one country or another is in violation. The current roster of member nations reads like an activist's human rights nightmare. Here's the current list with the year their term expires:

Cuba, a one party dictatorship? Egypt, a military dictatorship? Countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE where Sharia law dominates? Venezuela?

The list of politically oppressive governments who are members of the Human Rights Council goes on and on. The US must insist that only countries with a clear dedication to the UN rights charter should be allowed to serve on the council.

Otherwise, the only purpose of the council appears to be a platform to bash Israel and cover the multitude of sins being committed by a host of council members.


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