FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too

On Tuesday, June 19, our UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced US withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) now meeting in Geneva. The UNHRC is stacked with human rights abusers including Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, and, till now, the US itself, but this is still an ugly gesture, like refusing to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC, ditching the Paris Climate Accords, and shredding the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Who gives a damn what the world thinks of us? We are good! As Hillary Clinton said at the last Democratic National Convention, “America is great because it’s good.” What could better evidence that than our 1000 or so military bases, our unparalleled arsenal, and however many wars we’re fighting, depending on how you count? Most readers would probably have to stop and decide how to count before they could settle on a number. How dare anyone deny that America is good?

George W. Bush boycotted the UNHRC for three years, but Obama returned to the fold, and Hillary announced that we were back “to set a new agenda, based on three principles,” the second of which was: “The Council must apply a single standard to all countries…It cannot continue to single out and devote disproportionate attention to any one country,” meaning Israel.

At the close of its first session, on June 30, 2006, the UNHRC voted to establish a standing “Agenda Item 7: Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories” to be debated every time it convenes—three times a year. It’s since passed over 70 resolutions censuring Israel, including 5 passed at its March meeting earlier this year. Nikki Haley then scolded the Council for being “foolish and unworthy of its name.”

“Agenda Item 7” hasn’t been debated in the current session yet, but more censure of Israel is no doubt in the works, given Israel’s latest massacres in Gaza. In 2016, the US and other Western states walked out during the “Agenda Item 7” debate, and the delirious Jerusalem Post then screeched that “35 countries attacked Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Imagine that! Attacking Israeli human rights abuses. Israel is great because it’s good! It even has nuclear weapons and everybody knows it, especially Iran.

This week Israeli Defense Minister Avidor Lieberman called for Israel to withdraw from the UNHRC even though it’s not a member. He seems to think that the US and Israeli states are one. America and Israel are good!

Most folks have never even heard of the UNHRC, so, just for context:

The UNHRC is composed of 47 members elected to three year terms within five geographic groups: Africa, Central America and Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, and Western European and Other States including the US and Australia. The seats are rarely contested; nations from the various groups just swap votes and take turns. Only the Asia Pacific seat was contested this year.

UNHRC resolutions are neither legally binding nor enforceable, so it’s just a forum, but occasionally it makes news. This year the UNHRC story in the headlines has been that the US might quit the Council over its “anti-Israel bias”—as it now has— before its three-year term expires in 2019. The UK’s made a few headlines too by threatening to leave if the Council doesn’t overcome its “anti-Israel bias” within the next six months. The UK’s term expires in 2019 too.

The UN General Assembly’s favorite sport

Last week, before threatening US withdrawal, Nikki Haley raged about the UN General Assembly’s latest overwhelming vote condemning Israel’s “excessive use of force” and calling for protection of Palestinians in Gaza: “What makes Gaza different for some is that attacking Israel is their favorite political sport. That’s why we’re here today. The nature of this resolution clearly demonstrates that politics is driving the day.”

Politics! Imagine that. Politics are just a sordid process staining the purity of human rights respected and protected by the US in its global war on the planet and the people. Why not withdraw from the General Assembly? The US seat is secure on the Security Council, the only UN body whose resolutions are legally binding and enforceable. Our Ambassador vetoes any Security Council resolutions criticizing Israel or calling for peacekeepers to protect Gazans, but the US keeps getting beaten up, along with Israel, in all these toothless UN expressions of public opinion.

Donald Trump has suggested bombing the UN for violating our national sovereignty, but it’s right next to his property, so he may just have it collapsed like Building 7.

Sneaky secret ballots

At the end of June, the US suffered another blow to its moral authority when Pierre Prosper, its candidate for the UN Human Rights Committee, was defeated on a secret ballot. The Human Rights Committee is 18 internationally recognized human rights experts tasked solely with monitoring and commenting on compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As a former ICTR Prosecutor and US War Crimes Ambassador, Pierre Prosper was tasked with canonizing Rwandan military dictator Paul Kagame by making sure that only Hutus, not Tutsis, were prosecuted for the Rwandan massacres of 1990-1994. Israel and Rwanda then formed a deep bond based on victim’s license to invade the neighbors and otherwise do as they pleased.

There’s some speculation that the US may be using its outrage about the UNHRC’s tri-annual censure of Israel as an excuse to withdraw and thereby dodge censure of itself for tearing migrant parents and children apart at the US/Mexican border. Or to avoid debate about the staggering report on extreme poverty in the US that the UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights will present on Thursday. Who knows? I can’t read Donald Trump, John Bolton, or Nikki Haley’s mind, but who cares? America is great because it’s good! So good that we might as well take the rest of the world down with us.

More articles by:

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who also contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, the Black Agenda Report and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City.  In 2014, she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize by the Womens International Network for Democracy and Peace.  She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail