Rumors of the U.N.’s Benefits Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
10:01 AM, Dec 7, 2011 • By ANNE BAYEFSKY
Brimmer told the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on September 7, 2011: The Human Rights Council is a “serious human rights body.” There are no membership qualifications to serve on the U.N.’s lead human rights body, which therefore includes such human rights exemplars as Cuba, China, and Saudi Arabia. The standing agenda of the Council has one item devoted to criticism of Israel alone and another for all other 192 U.N. members. Forty-four percent of all the condemnations of specific states made by the Council have been directed to Israel.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Rice announced on March 31, 2009 that the Obama administration would seek to join the Council because it “is scheduled to undergo a formal review of its structure and procedures in 2011, which will offer a significant opportunity for Council reform.” U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council Eileen Donahoe said in the New York Times on September 13, 2010: “[I]f we do not sit at the table with others and do the work necessary to influence the process, U.S. values and priorities will not be reflected in the outcome.”
The Council “reform” process ended on June 17, 2011. Of the 42 proposals put forward by the American delegation, only three—all on minutiae—were accepted. The agenda item on Israel remained exactly the same. No criteria for membership on the Council were instituted and yet the sham review resolution passed the General Assembly with flying colors. After the vote the Syrian delegate summed up what really went down: “Warmest thanks…Our efforts were crowned by arriving at the document before us today…The objective of our work was not reform…”
Clinton addressed a letter on October 12, 2011 to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in which she said: “The United States strongly supports serious, sustained reform of the United Nations….We will…sustain our vigorous and principled push for fair treatment of Israel.”
Vigorous push? In March 2011, months before the Human Rights Council “reform” finally crashed and burned, and a year before any decision needed to be made, the administration formally announced that it would seek a second term on the Council—jettisoning the only bargaining chip for reform it might have had left either then or now.
The Obama administration’s story telling goes beyond the Human Rights Council.
Clinton told Reuters on October 11, 2011: “[W]ith respect to…UNESCO, we are legally prohibited from continuing to fund organizations that accept the Palestinians as members…I am strongly making the case to Members of Congress that at some point we need some flexibility because pretty soon, if we don’t pay into these organizations, we lose our right to participate and influence their actions.”
Failing to pay dues to U.N. bodies eventually results in the loss of voting privileges, but it does not result in the loss of a right to participate. In fact, on November 2, 2011, two days after the State Department indicated that U.S. funds to UNESCO would be stopped following the Palestinian move in accordance with U.S. law, the United States was reelected to serve on UNESCO’s executive board.
When it comes to the U.N. role on the big-ticket items that go to the heart of American national security interests, the misinformation campaign is also in full gear.
Rice told a House Appropriations Subcommittee on April 6, 2010: “[T]he U.N. helps halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons.” Brimmer similarly told the U.S.I.P on September 7, 2011: “[T]he International Atomic Energey Agency…has been invaluable in sounding the alarm on illicit nuclear activities in Iran [and] Syria…”
Actually, for twenty years under the stewardship of Egyptian Mohamed El Baradei the IAEA delayed supervision of Iranian behavior, lobbied against sanctions, and withheld damning information, drastically reducing the available strategies today for preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb. The Security Council is still twiddling its thumbs. U.N. “alarm-sounding” on Syria started 10 months after Israel destroyed its nascent nuclear reactor. North Korea, which has twice tested nuclear weapons and is developing missiles to carry them, was appointed in June to chair the U.N. Conference on Disarmament for its meetings this past summer.
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