How they see us: Giving up on human rights
The U.S. has added “another withdrawal to its long list of international disengagements,” said Marie Bourreau and Gilles Paris in Le Monde (France). Citing the “supposed anti-Israel bias” of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Trump administration last week declared it was quitting the 47-nation body. In announcing the pullout, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, “could not find enough harsh words” for the 12-year-old council. She called it “hypocritical” and “a cesspool of bias,” noting that the organization had passed five resolutions against Israel so far this year, “more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined.” Of course, hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder. Haley pointed out that the council’s member nations include serial human rights offenders such as Congo and Venezuela, “but was careful to avoid mentioning Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates”—U.S. allies that are bombing and starving innocent civilians in Yemen.
America’s exit was “long overdue,” said Julie Lenarz in The Jerusalem Post (Israel). Human rights abuses abound around the world, but the council singles out only Israel for special condemnation. Of the 135 resolutions it adopted from 2006 to 2016 that criticized countries, 68—more than 50 percent—targeted “the only Jewish state in the world, and the only true democracy in the Middle East.” The council’s Agenda Item 7 actually mandates a discussion of the “implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine” every time the body meets. This morally bankrupt organization exists to let the worst criminal regimes “wash their hands of responsibility, while simultaneously entertaining their absurd obsession with the Jewish state.”
It’s true that the council “is a farce,” said Damir Fras in the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (Germany). Some of its members are hideous human rights abusers: Qatar is practically a slave state; Syria has been bombing, gassing, and shooting its own people for seven years. But having a forum to air offenses and name offenders furthers the cause of human rights, while a U.S. exit from such a forum does not. “Long-term debate is essential to international cooperation,” as we saw in the Obama administration’s successful effort to clinch a multinational deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program. President Trump, though, can’t see the value in diplomacy—or, for that matter, in human rights.
Surely it’s no coincidence that the Trump administration pulled out of the council just as it embarked on a brutal family separation policy that almost certainly breaks international human rights law, said The Observer (U.K.) in an editorial. It is a “grotesque betrayal” of Western values for the U.S. to treat desperate asylum seekers at the Mexican border as criminals, tear their children from their arms, and incarcerate toddlers in “baby jails.” President Trump is due to visit Britain on July 13. If he won’t change his nationalist, xenophobic policy, “he should be turned back at the border.” ■