The Corner

The Obama Administration’s U.N. Human-Rights Fiasco

In what has to be one of the most weak-kneed foreign-policy decisions by the new administration (and the competition is pretty intense), the Obama administration has just announced that it will seek a seat on the widely discredited U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC), which was rightly boycotted by President Bush as an anti-American circus. The Council, which devotes much of its time to persecuting Israel, is the successor to the disastrous Commission on Human Rights, so awful that even Kofi Annan disowned it.

The HRC is frankly a basket case, even by the staggeringly low bar set by the U.N. It’s current membership includes some of the world’s most authoritarian regimes such as China, Cuba, Egypt, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. The current president is from Nigeria and the vice president from Azerbaijan, both countries with poor human-rights records.

Frankly it’s only a matter of time before the likes of Iran, Burma, and Zimbabwe work their way back into the U.N.’s human rights apparatus. No doubt tyrants across the world are salivating at the prospect of having the United States raked over the coals in Geneva.

It is hard to fathom the reasoning behind the Obama administration’s decision to join the Council and have the United States humiliated on the world stage. According to a clearly embarrassed State Department in a press release nowhere near the front page of their website: “The decision is in keeping with the Obama Administration’s ‘new era of engagement’ with other nations to advance American security interests and meet the global challenges of the 21st century.”

This new approach apparently includes reaching out to the mullahs of Tehran who have actively backed the killing of American and British forces in Iraq, as well as imaginary “moderate” elements of the Taliban.

Personally, I prefer former U.N. ambassador John Bolton’s take on it all: “This is like getting on board the Titanic after its hit the iceberg. This is the theology of engagement at work. There is no concrete American interest served by this, and it legitimizes something that doesn’t deserve legitimacy.”

– Nile Gardiner is the director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation.

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