“The United States is one of the Council’s strongest supporters of country-specific action, and used its influence to mobilize the Council to respond firmly to numerous situations of egregious violations in the world. The US’s lack of consistency particularly in responding to violations committed by close allies, however, marred its overall record.”
Something that everyone who has been paying attention already knew (that the US is hypocritical to an astounding degree when it comes to upholding basic standards of human rights and international law) has recently been “exposed” and analyzed for the public.
Human Rights Watch, through its webpage “VotesCount“, has updated its analysis of the voting records for the year 2014 of all countries taking part in the UN Rights Council, “an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.”
The report contains both aspects to be satisfied with and aspects that all American citizens should be ashamed of.
The United States engaged most actively among Council members in mobilizing the Council to respond to country situations.
In 2014, the US was the main sponsor of the resolution establishing an international investigation into violations during the war in Sri Lanka. It also played an influential role in various Item 4 resolutions, including on Iran, Syria, and North Korea, and in supporting the Council’s continued engagement on Burma. Ahead of the Council’s September session, the US stated its readiness to present its own draft resolution on Sudan, which was a key factor in ultimately negotiating a stronger final text. The US also supported the calls to convene the special sessions on the Central African Republic and on Iraq.
So the United States is willing to play ball, in certain situations, to help improve human rights globally. Fantastic.
But just as the compliments end, the scathing (and accurate) criticisms begin:
Regrettably, the United States was also the only Council member to reject all resolutions focusing on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories (OPT), breaking with other countries in its regional group.
Its systematic opposition to resolutions on this particular situation raises serious questions about double standards and selectivity in its approach to the Council. The United States should base its positions on an assessment of the situation on the ground, the needs of victims, and the international obligations of the government concerned. The United States’ current approach on the OPT also undermines its ability to be credible and effective in supporting Council engagement on country situations elsewhere in the world.
With the recent headlines and hubbub about the Obama administration’s supposed questioning of Israel’s policy goals and rhetorical commitments, the above provides a bit of sober reality: the US unabashedly supports human rights violations when they are committed by our allies. This point is of course uncontroversial, but particularly so with regard to Israel.
Anyone who looks at the Israel-Palestine conflict with clear eyes will recognize that both sides have committed atrocities worth condemning, but also that the conflict is (to put it lightly) brutally one-sided, with the US-backed state forcing its military might upon a, by comparison, completely defenseless population.
The US, with the help of the subservient media, never hesitates to scream about the crimes of Palestinians, but when Israel commits its own atrocities (which are ideologically, militarily, and financially supported by the US), they are either ignored or justified in the name of self-defense or security, and no one dares to question these justifications.
Human Rights Watch is correct to question US credibility in upholding human rights, because it frankly doesn’t have any.
A country so rhetorically committed to human rights, and a country which has the power and privilege to make a serious impact, but which utterly fails to do so when action would negatively impact their relationship with a client state, does not even rise to the most basic level of morality.