UN Human Rights Council Ignores Real Abuses to Attack Israel | Opinion

This week, while world leaders and heads of state spoke by video at an unprecedented annual United Nations General Assembly meeting, their ambassadors met at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

However, instead of focusing on China's ethnic cleansing of Uighur Muslims, Iran's merciless execution of wrester Navid Afkari or Russia's poisoning of pro-democracy opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the council will once again focus its attention on the democratic state of Israel with a series of predictable condemnations.

In 2018, when the United States announced its withdrawal from the UNHRC, citing the council's "unconscionable" and "chronic" bias against Israel, Ambassador Nikki Haley noted it had become "a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias."

She was entirely right.

Just last year, the Council elected Nicolás Maduro's Venezuela, one of the world's most repressive and human rights abusing regimes, as a member. This is not a joke. This is inexcusable and unconscionable. It is also on par for the UN's top human rights body, which according to reports, is now set to elect China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia this October.

The Human Rights Council was formed in 2006 to tackle human rights abuses in light of the failures of its discredited predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission.

The commission was widely criticized for its one-sided obsession with Israel and the make-up of its membership, which included some of the most atrocious regimes in the world. At one point in 2003, Libya—then still ruled by Muammar Gaddafi—even chaired the commission.

Hopes were high that the council would herald the dawn of a new era, when the persecuted would finally have a voice and their persecutors would finally be held to account for their crimes.

UN building
The United Nations building is seen in Manhattan on the first official day of the 75th United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty

Instead, the council has continued its unrelenting obsession with the state of Israel, condemning it almost as often as all other countries put together. The council reserves a spot on its agenda to condemn the Jewish state—the sole country-specific item—whereas human rights issues in the entire rest of the world are shoved into one solitary agenda item.

The council of course has never passed a resolution condemning the Palestinian Authority over its repulsive "Pay to Slay" policy of paying terrorists and murderers of Israelis.

In the meantime, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, in her September 14th remarks to the council at the opening of this current session, did not hesitate to condemn Israel for exercising self-defense against Hamas in Gaza. She conveniently failed to mention Israel's historic peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.

Israel of course is not above the law, but the undeniable fact is that the Jewish state has been systematically denied equality before the UN Human Rights Council, which has displayed systematic, disproportionate and visceral bias against it.

At the same time, the council's current membership, which includes Pakistan, Qatar, Libya, slave-trading Mauritania and Maduro's Venezuela, don't inspire confidence in the council's ability to defend the oppressed and serve as objective guardians of human rights.

Instead, in this theatre of the absurd, terrorists, tyrants, dictators and henchmen sit in judgment of Western democracies, their places on the Human Rights Council guaranteed by sham elections and back-door deals, their impunity sealed by membership to the UN's top human rights body.

As Hillel Neuer of UN Watch—the leading independent organization devoted to monitoring the United Nations—has observed, the Human Rights Council is "where the worst criminals are often the prosecutors and judges."

This year marks 75 years since the inception of the UN, which was formed in the wake of World War II upon the ashes of the Holocaust. Yet this anniversary is not a cause for celebration, but a chance for reflection on how its Human Rights Council has so utterly failed to live up to the organization's own charter, having lost all pretext of moral authority.

It is long past time to disband this sham of a Council, which has become rotten to the core, defined by its unrelenting obsession with Israel and defense of the world's worst tyrants, dictators and human rights abusers.

What is needed urgently is the creation of a new body, one that will be made up of democracies and free societies, its mission focused on unwaveringly standing up for the victims of human rights abuse, not their abusers.

Arsen Ostrovsky is an Israel-based international human rights lawyer, who has spoken on numerous occasions before the UN Human Rights Council. You can follow him on Twitter: @Ostrov_A.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.