Democrats

Democratic Platform Calls For Rejoining Human Rights Council

Call follows Trump administration’s decision to pull out of anti-Israel United Nations group

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The 2020 Democratic national platform includes a call to rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which has been accused of demonizing Israel and elevating leaders with questionable human rights records.

"Instead of walking away, Democrats believe the United States should lead the way and mobilize our partners to work in common cause," the DNC platform reads. "We will rejoin and reform the WHO, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the United Nations Population Fund, because in a global public health crisis and a global democratic recession, American leadership is needed more than ever."

Long criticized as a hotbed of anti-Israel policy, the UNHRC has appointed human-rights monitors with a history of support for the BDS movement. The council also produced multiple reports on Israeli operations against Hamas that accused the Israel Defense Forces of violating international law and war crimes.

The United States left the UNHRC in 2018 over what former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called "chronic bias against Israel." After America's withdrawal, known human-rights abusers China and Russia began vying for spots on the council, which will elect 15 new members this fall.

China regularly engages in human-rights abuses—imprisoning political dissidents and forcing Muslim minorities into labor camps are only a few concerns in its long track record of misconduct.

Russia's record on human rights is similarly bleak. Human Rights Watch asserted that the the human-rights situation in Russia deteriorated in 2019, citing a litany of abuses from violating freedom of expression to discrimination and violence against minorities.

The council has drawn criticism in the past for allowing human-rights abusers to participate in its decision making. Critics allege that its geographical quota for members sets the bar very low, rendering the UNHRC's condemnation of abuses in other countries far less credible. "With a few honorable exceptions, the overwhelming majority of countries outside the Western Europe and others grouping have flawed-to-abysmal human-rights records and policies," Krishnadev Calamur lamented in the Atlantic in 2018.

"Many are not democracies. Few have representative governments. Fewer still have an incentive to pursue and commit to universal human rights," Calamur wrote. "That these are the countries that criticize Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is bad enough; that they do it while pursuing their own draconian policies makes the membership laughable."