International Human Rights Day – commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Conventions on December 10, 1948 – is marked every year in the United Nations and by other organizations claiming to carry out its noble principles. But in stark contrast to the self-congratulation and high-sounding rhetoric that characterize these events, the reality makes a particularly desolate picture.
If anything, this day is a timely reminder of the failures of the institutions that were created after the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust to protect and defend human rights. Indeed, 2018 was another dismal year, and there is little to celebrate. The massive government bureaucracies and millions provided to groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International did nothing to prevent the carnage in Syria that destroyed millions of lives. And the triumph of the Assad-Russia-Iran-Hezbollah coalition offers no hope for the future. In Venezuela, the tyranny of oppression and repression continues, and hopes that after the death of Hugo Chavez the situation would improve have been dashed.
Ignoring most of the victims around the world, the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva continues to be controlled by some of the worst violators, including Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia (a major offender long before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi), Egypt and China. The member-states and UN officials they appoint routinely exploit the rhetoric of international law to deflect attention from their own behavior, and obsessively target Israel. Syrian and Iranian diplomats take the floor to make poisonous accusations against Israel, while their governments make genocidal threats that turn the 1948 declaration into a mockery.
This year, the council voted to again conduct a pseudo-investigation of Israel, this time over the claims of excessive force and war crimes during the Hamas-orchestrated violent “Grand Return March” incidents along the Gaza border with Israel. Like the infamous (and eventually discredited) Goldstone Report published in 2009, the one-sided results of this version were decided before the commission members were named. For these reasons and more, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley declared “the Human Rights Council is the United Nations’ greatest failure.” After all efforts to enact reforms were rejected, the US suspended its membership, further diminishing the council’s legitimacy.
Adding to the disaster, powerful non-governmental organizations claiming to promote human rights, including Amnesty and HRW, promote the agendas of the dictatorships they are ostensibly monitoring. At the UN meetings, these NGOs routinely take the floor to repeat unsupported claims and denounce democracies, with a particular relish for reinforcing the attacks against Israel.