Sen. Kamala Harris has an interesting view on what constitutes U.S. leadership on the world stage.
In response to a recent report that the U.S. is preparing to leave the U.N. Human Rights Council over its anti-Israel bias (Israel is the only country listed as a permanent agenda item for UNHRC meetings), the California senator seems to believe the country is committing a moral failure.
Granted, the goal of the U.N. body is “strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe,” one might wonder why the senator thinks we should defer our decision-making to these council members and serial human rights abusers.
China might seem like an easy target, but it’s worth highlighting the lunacy of their presence on a human rights commission. The State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2017 notes that the country enforces a “severe repression of organizations and individuals involved in human rights advocacy” within its own borders. The Chinese Communist Party is responsible for carrying out executions without due process, placing across the board restrictions on speech and religion, and arresting journalists and writers for voicing political dissent.
The Philippines, under President Rodrigo Duterte, has waged a ‘drug war’ resulting in government security forces killing more than 12,000 offenders. In the process, the government has killed journalists and targeted human rights activists with threats of violence.
In Venezuela, the effects of Nicolas Maduro’s consolidation of power have left tens of millions of Venezuelans struggling to find food. With the country’s political upheaval, it has seen a dramatic increase in human rights abuses: the criminalization of government criticism and resulting detention of journalists, torture by police, violence against protesters, and the forced shutdown of private media outlets.
Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses are well known: repression of speech, executions without due process, imprisonment of political prisoners, arbitrary arrests of human rights activists, and legal discrimination against women and homosexuals. At least women will now be able to drive cars.
There are other member countries with disturbing records on human rights (e.g. Cuba, Afghanistan, Ethiopia), but with just these four countries in mind, it’s laughable to think U.S. moral leadership is derived from our membership on this council. If leaving the UNHRC signifies anything, it’s that the U.S. is no longer interested in indulging the council’s fixation on Israel while its member countries carry on human rights abuses back home. That sounds like leadership to me.
Cole Carnick is a commentary intern with the Washington Examiner.