US sends back to Human Rights Council a parody of its raison d’être

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TV reporters operate at a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, September 13, 2021. / Getty

TV reporters operate at a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, September 13, 2021. / Getty

Editor’s Note: Alfred de Zayas is professor of international law, former secretary of the UN Human Rights Committee and independent UN expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order from 2012 to 2018. Adriel Kasonta is a London-based political risk consultant and lawyer of Jewish and Tanzanian origin. The article reflects the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of the CGTN.

The United States regained its seat on the UN Human Rights Council in an uncontested vote in the General Assembly on October 14 after the administration of former US President Donald Trump left the body of 47 members in 2018, citing “chronic bias” against Israel.

With 168 votes, the United States joined 17 other countries in securing the second lowest place, edging only Eritrea which found itself at the bottom of the list with 144 votes. By way of comparison, Benin and The Gambia were the first recipients with 189 and 186 votes respectively.

“The lack of competition in this year’s Human Rights Council vote makes a mockery of the word ‘election’,” UN director at Human Rights Watch Louis Charbonneau said in a statement. Therefore, the United States has nothing to celebrate but its successful bullying practices.

According to US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Washington’s objectives will be to “stand alongside human rights defenders and denounce human rights violations and abuses” in countries like “Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Ethiopia, Syria and Yemen,” while opposing “the council’s disproportionate focus on Israel.”

Such words are, of course, cognitive dissonance – pure propaganda.

If “the land of the free and the homeland of the brave” were interested in the defense of human rights, she would salute Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers, true human rights defenders, taking personal risks for denounce war crimes and defend democratic principles.

If the United States were to commit to human rights, it would immediately lift the “deadly sanctions” that have crippled governments in their ability to fight COVID-19, sanctions that are only aimed at securing a “Regime change” in countries that do not follow Washington’s orders. , sanctions that have killed and continue to kill tens of thousands of people in Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria and Venezuela because they directly cause shortage of food and medicine, unavailability of dialysis equipment, medical scanners, breakdown infrastructure, unemployment, large-scale migration and desperation.

The U.S. agenda on the council only advances U.S. national security priorities which, according to a Reuters study, are far more important to the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden than protecting the rights of the United States. man herself.

The recent decision to re-engage with the international institution is in line with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s plan to break with the Trump-era withdrawal, who argued in February that he “has done nothing to encourage meaningful change, but instead created a vacuum. of American leadership, which countries with authoritarian agendas have used to their advantage. “

Blinken, of course, is a seasoned player in American propaganda and disinformation. He is an eloquent orator who, unlike Mike Pompeo, really tries to portray US imperialism as promoting democracy.

In fact, Washington’s presence on the council serves a bipartisan consensus in the US Congress regarding the downplaying of human rights violations against Palestinians by Israel, which the latter has been accused of committing “crimes of apartheid and prosecution.” by Human Rights Watch in April. , as well as arming human rights against geopolitical enemies like China with a focus on topics related to the Taiwan region, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. .

Palestinians offer evening prayer outside the Lion’s Gate, Al Aqsa Mosque, refusing to enter because of metal detectors installed by Israel in Jerusalem, July 22, 2017. / Getty

Palestinians offer evening prayer outside the Lion’s Gate, Al Aqsa Mosque, refusing to enter because of metal detectors installed by Israel in Jerusalem, July 22, 2017. / Getty

Notably, the Geneva-based Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace a commission previously discredited due to its members’ poor human rights record. Yet the new council is just as political as the commission, and the Members’ Human Rights Report is just as poor – if not worse – as we know from the Universal Periodic Review.

With the entry into force of the US seat on the council in 2022, we will see whether the body will resist pressure from Washington to compromise in the service of its national security objectives and remain impartial in “documenting atrocities in order to keep the wrongdoers out. responsible for their actions. “, as Secretary Blinken said.

Does Blinken think so? Next, the council must hold the United States accountable for the continued discrimination against African Americans and the nearly forgotten Native Americans, Sioux, Cree, Cherokee, and Seminole, who have been downgraded to tourist attractions, such as the Vice President Kamala Harris herself recently asserted that her country faces a “shameful past” with tribal nations.

However, it should not be forgotten that China and Russia are also members of the Human Rights Council and have asserted themselves in recent years. At the 48th council meeting, which ended on Oct. 8, China sponsored a strong resolution on colonialism and its aftermath, passed without negative votes, but abstaining from all allies of the United States. It may indicate that a different wind is blowing.

In the halls of the Palais des Nations, we hear that the Chinese are fed up with unproven claims emanating from Washington – which China has refuted and followed by an invitation to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to go to China. .

Bachelet is expected to actually visit China, but she does not want to risk her potential reappointment in 2022. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is under considerable pressure from the United States and its allies, and there are fears that a mission to China could end up legitimizing China’s counterterrorism measures in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

The Human Rights Council must revive the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt and focus on cooperation rather than confrontation. The accession of the United States will not make the situation worse or better. What is needed is intellectual honesty – and this has always been rare.

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