U.N. Human Rights Council Now Officially a Joke

Foreign Policy‘s Michael Cognato says that, with its vote this week to end its examination of the worsening conditions in Iran and Uzbekistan, the “U.N. Human Rights Council is now officially a joke.”

The sad irony is, the Council was actually conceived as an alternative to the now-defunct Human Rights Committee, which had been widely condemned for doing exactly what the new Council is doing now. The United States had been a leading advocate for reform, but refused to sit on the Council at its inception, fearing that it would degenerate into a talking shop that would aid and abet the worst violators.

That position is looking pretty prescient now. The Council has condemned Israel 8 times, but refused to pass judgment on even a single other regime. Regional bloc cover for their own, while tyrants point to the shortcomings of democracies to hide the fact that they aren't even trying. All of which just goes to show the inherent weakness of a body that treats all of its members as formal equals in judging matters in which they manifestly are not.

Quite right. It hardly took “prescience” on the part of the Bush administration to predict this in advance, however; this is just par for the course.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Lets face it, investigating anyone other than Israel just took time away from condemning Israel. Maybe the UN is a place we can cut a little fat from the US budget.

  2. just me says:

    The UN is a joke on this issue.

    Part of the problem is that pretty much anyone is allowed to come to the UN to play, as long as they are recognized as a legitimate country-it doesn’t matter if their leader is a dictator or murderous thug. When anyone is allowed to play, the bullies are going to act up and protect their own.

    My opinion is that the UN has pretty much lost any relevance it had. If the world is just determined to have some kind of “good old boys” network for world governments, then they should create an invitation only club that invites only governments that are committed to real democracy. Sure it may leave some people out, and sure it might hurt some feelings, but in the end, it at least won’t be giving power to some of the worst offenders.