Can this be fixed? Actually, the current Human Rights Council was supposed to be the fix, created in 2006 to replace the utterly discredited former Commission on Human Rights, which fell prey to the same ills — a rot that reached its apotheosis in 2003, when Qaddafi’s Libya was chosen to preside. The basic flaws were not fixed. Though some candidates may be defeated by dogged campaigns, the fundamental design of the UN Human Rights Council means that human rights abusers will continue to infest the Council. The basic problem is a UN system which for purposes of rights and privileges of member states draws no distinction between free countries and the world’s worst despotisms. For instance, Iran, despite being under UN Security Council sanctions, can sit on the executive boards of the UN flagship agency, the UN Development Program, or UNICEF (actually, it sits on both), and though reasonable people might find that nuts, at the UN it is received as normal practice.
At the Human Rights Council, this UN Setup translates over and over into the monstrous absurdity that the worst human rights abusers are received as qualified to pronounce judgment on human rights, and — courtesy in particular of U.S. tax dollars — given a world stage to do so. They buddy up, praise each other, condemn the democracies they fear … and out of this process come such travesties as the Goldstone Report (savaging Israel) and the appointment of Special Rapporteur Richard Falk (savaging Israel, and blaming the Boston marathon bombing on the U.S.).
What to do? In an ideal world, the U.S. would either find a way to pull the plug on the entire enterprise, or at least move it to Novosibirsk — further from Swiss banks and jewelry shopping, and closer to irrelevance. At the very least, the U.S. could walk away. Nothing like that looks likely to happen anytime soon. But if there is a solution to be found, it probably begins with recognizing that the UN Human Rights Council is not designed to protect human rights. It is designed to provide rotating seats, and credentials that its democratic members don’t need, and the rest of its members don’t deserve.