Why Dictators Will Win U.N. Human Rights Council Seats

The United Nations logo is seen at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 23, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Today’s election suggests that the council is not any better than the commission that it replaced — and it might even be worse.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE A t the turn of this century, a number of United Nations officials lined up to criticize the organization’s Commission on Human Rights.

Even the strongest advocates of the international human-rights project were forced to admit the body’s abject failure: The world’s worst dictatorships and human-rights abusers routinely manipulated its proceedings to deflect from their own depravities. It became a tool with which to attack Western governments and human-rights defenders.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, the legendary U.N. diplomat who inspired an eponymous Netflix biopic, warned of its “use for political ends.” Former secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali raised the alarm about its manifest failings.