Home inContext Calling all Democracies

Calling all Democracies

Samara Greenberg

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) convened in Geneva yesterday with an agenda that singled out Israel. At the meeting, two reports were produced – one a follow-up to the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead and the other a report on the Gaza flotilla raid in May 2010. As usual, Islamic states and their allies used the meeting as an opportunity to criticize Israel, accusing the country of acting with cruelty and careless violence.

For example, while the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of painting the Jewish state “with the blood of victims,” Turkey told the council that Israel “must put an end to its culture of violence.” In addition, Libya, a recent addition to – and stain on – the UNHRC, called to put Israeli leaders on trial for war crimes.

UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

Israel, which is not a council member, has been singled out by the UN body since its creation in 2006. Over the last four years, out of 40 resolutions criticizing countries, 33 were against Israel and only seven for the rest of the world’s countries combined. Out of 10 emergency debates that convened, seven did so against Israel. Meanwhile, the world’s worst human rights violators – countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and China – all enjoy impunity.

UN Human Rights Council members are elected by regional constituencies, giving Islamic states and their allies a majority in the body. Indeed, only 20 of the 47 nations on the UNHRC are considered “free” by Freedom House, which means the majority of the council’s member nations do not allow their people to enjoy basic human freedoms.

Four years after its creation, not only is the state of the UNHRC ironic, it is deplorable. That the UN body has become a hotbed of criticism against a democracy but a safehaven for the world’s worst tyrannies makes a mockery of the United Nations and every free country worldwide. Moreover, it does a grave disservice to the citizens living under true oppressive regimes by taking the spotlight off their plight.

Actions always speak louder than words. It is time for democracies, starting with the United States, to stand up for freedom and the values the UN was founded upon by walking out on the UNHRC and exposing the body for what it really is.