Among the first things the Obama administration did to break from the “unilateral” policies of the Bush administration was to join the United Nations Human Rights Council, which the U.S. shunned when it was formed in 2006. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that “we will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system.” U.N. ambassador Susan Rice declared that we were joining “because we believe that working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights.”
Now, almost a year and a half later, the Council remains as it ever was: a body composed of some of the worst human rights abusers in the world, devoted to attacking Western democracies, demonizing Israel, covering up the abuses of authoritarian regimes, and undermining the pursuit of human rights. The only difference today is that America’s name is being lent to this effort.
The administration’s desire for cooperation and engagement at the U.N. has led to acquiescence and even active involvement in a number of unsavory proceedings. The United States co-sponsored a “freedom of expression” resolution with a dictatorship, Egypt, which in effect endorses the suppression of free speech. When Libya and other authoritarians were elected to the Council, Ambassador Rice refused to say whether the U.S. had opposed their admission. When the Syrian representative claimed that Israeli children “sing merrily as they go to school, and I quote, ‘With my teeth I will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood,’” the U.S. representative made no protest. This summer, the U.S. voted for a resolution that seemed to absolve Iran of human rights abuses.
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