The U.S. has rejoined the Human Rights Council, expressing hopes for positive cooperation in the future. Reports the Associated Press:
The United States joined the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday, a body widely criticized for failing to confront abuses around the world and for acting primarily to condemn Israel, one of Washington's closest allies.
U.S. officials pledged to work constructively in the 47-member council, which has frequently been hampered by ideological differences between rich and poor countries.
"The United States assumes its seat on the council with gratitude, with humility, and in the spirit of cooperation," said Mark C. Storella, who is for the moment the top diplomat at the U.S. Mission to U.N. organizations in Geneva.
The decision in May to seek a seat on the Geneva-based body after three years of giving it the cold shoulder represented a major shift in line with President Barack Obama's aim of showing that "a new era of engagement has begun."
Council members, U.N. officials and independent pressure groups applauded the move as a sign the only remaining superpower is prepared to debate human rights with the rest of the world.
Alas, it's a forlorn hope. The Council is dominated by human rights abusers and their enablers. The recent case of Cuba, as Cato's Juan Carlos Hidalgo pointed out, is instructive.
I wrote up the story for American Spectator online. The debate over Cuba's record was particularly revealing:
Pakistan wished Cuba well in realizing "all human rights for all citizens." Venezuela (you don't have to be a member to comment) lauded "the iron will" of Cuba's government. Russia said, "Cuba had taken a serious and responsible approach." Uzbekistan "stressed Cuba's work in the promotion of human rights." China declared that "Cuba had made important contributions to the international human rights cause." Egypt opined that "Cuba's efforts were commendable." And so it went.
Why should American taxpayers pay for such a farce? Not only is it a waste of money, but it sets back the cause of human rights. In general, the Obama administration's emphasis on engagement is appropriate. In this case, however, "engagement" is a mistake.