For many years, the people of Israel have known that there is something rotten at the United Nations. Established in the aftermath of World War II with the aim of preserving international peace and security and upholding human rights, the world organization has instead become a politically slanted institution that has demonstrably failed to fulfill its mandate.
To a large extent, Israelis have become accustomed to the UN’s hostile attitude and its anti-Israel resolutions. Nonetheless, the UN continues to surprise us each time as it reaches for new heights of absurdity, with the latest example being the candidacies of Syria and Sudan for seats on the body’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
In September, when the world’s representatives gather for the UN General Assembly in New York, they will be selecting the members of the UNHRC. One question they will surely not address is: how is it possible that since the Council’s establishment in 2006, the State of Israel has been condemned nine times for alleged violations of human rights whereas not a single dictatorship in the world has ever been condemned more than once a year?
Another issue they will surely ignore is the crude and systematic violations of human rights directed against women and minorities in various Islamic countries.
Nor will they bother to explain why they invited Hamas representative Ismail al-Ashqar to address the Council, even though the group’s aim is to destroy the State of Israel and murder as many innocent Jews as possible.
But before selecting new Council members to safeguard human rights, one hopes that they will at least pause for a moment and ask themselves: do we really wish to see dictatorships such as Syria and Sudan entrusted with this weighty task?
After all, it was in July 2010 that Sudanese ruler Omar al-Bashir became the first sitting head of state in history to be charged with war crimes by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. An arrest warrant was issued against him on charges of genocide in connection with Sudan’s brutal campaign in Darfur, where an estimated half a million people have lost their lives.
And Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has been busy bombarding his own people with tanks and aircraft, murdering thousands in a ferocious attempt to quash the opposition to his stifling rule. Countless women and children have been gunned down by Assad’s thugs for no other reason than the Syrian people’s desire to be free.
The evil perpetrated by al-Bashir and Assad knows no bounds, and neither does their cynicism. They unabashedly seek to join the UNHRC, and if the world is willing to countenance such an outrage, then why shouldn’t they?
The world’s democracies must unite in order to ensure that such a disgrace does not come to pass. We must instead focus more energy on some of the burning human rights issues of our time, such as freedom of speech and religion, which too many of our fellow human beings on the planet still do not enjoy.
The UN and the entire international community will be facing a crucial test in September. If they agree to select Assad or Bashir’s representatives to sit on the UN Human Rights Council, they might as well turn out the lights and toss away the keys. The choice of Syria and Sudan will not only set back the cause of justice, but it will underline the sad fact that at the UN, rights have been replaced by wrongs.
Gilad Erdan is Israel’s minister of environmental protection.
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