The Trump administration decided to boycott the United Nations Human Rights Council’s special session bashing Israel this week. The Council is devoting time, during its regular annual month-long meeting in March, to take up ‘Agenda Item 7’ dealing with the “human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” Israel is the only country in the world that is targeted under such a special agenda item during the Council’s regular sessions, held three times a year. The Human Rights Council uses this vehicle to concentrate its venom on Israel, with the objective of delegitimizing the Jewish state. Later this year, the Council plans to follow up on its request for production of a database of businesses involved with West Bank settlements, for the purpose of creating a blacklist of firms that countries and the UN itself will be pressured to boycott.
The misnamed Human Rights Council counts among its members such human rights abusing Islamic countries as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Under pressure from the Palestinians and the Islamic states supporting them, it is the Jewish state of Israel that captures the Council’s obsessive attention. In fact, the Human Rights Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than all of the other 192 member states of the United Nations combined. At last year’s month-long meeting, held around this same time, the Human Rights Council sought fit to issue five resolutions against Israel, while Syria, North Korea and Iran were the subject of only one resolution each. Saudi Arabia got off scot-free.
—Bombthrowers: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow went on Twitter Tuesday (March 14th) to hype her “breaking story”: “We’ve got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC. (Seriously).” This no doubt sent the Left into a state of delirium. Then, Maddow followed up with another tweet, lowering expectations slightly: “What we’ve got is from 2005… the President’s 1040 form… details to come tonight 9PM ET, MSNBC.” That was not quite accurate either. What Maddow finally revealed on her show, after all of her self-promotion, were only two leaked pages from President Trump’s 2005 tax return that she had received from former New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston. Johnston claimed he just happened to receive them in his mailbox. And all that Maddow managed to prove was that President Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on reported income of $150 million, at an effective rate of 24.5 percent, as compared to the Obamas’ payment of federal income taxes on their reported income at an effective tax rate of 18.7 percent in 2015. In anticipation of Maddow’s attempted “scoop,” the White House scooped her and released information on President Trump’s 2005 taxes before Maddow did.
The arcane issue of cybersecurity has received front page media attention of late. Most recently, WikiLeaks published documents which purport to show, according to WikiLeaks, “the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program.” The program is comprised of a “malware arsenal and dozens of ‘zero day’ weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products…which are turned into covert microphones.” Smart TVs, iPhones, Windows PCs, and Internet routers, including routers supplied by Chinese vendors, were apparently targets of the CIA’s product weaponization program.
Even more shocking is news from WikiLeaks that the CIA itself has been hacked. WikiLeaks reported that “the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized ‘zero day’ exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.”
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a Jordanian, assumed his functions as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on September 1, 2014. He has recently been obsessed with criticizing the Trump administration for a variety of alleged human rights sins. Considering the sorry human rights record in his home country of Jordan, Zeid Hussein’s obsession smacks of utter hypocrisy. His charges are also baseless.
In a speech that Zeid Al Hussein delivered in Geneva on March 8th, he had this to say about the Trump administration:
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which was established in August 2015 under a unanimously approved Security Council resolution, was assigned the responsibility to determine who was responsible for a series of chemical attacks since 2013 that killed Syrian civilians. The independent expert panel concluded that there was sufficient evidence to determine that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons on three separate occasions from 2014 to 2015, while ISIS had used them at least once. With that conclusion in hand, the United States, United Kingdom and France introduced a draft resolution on February 28th imposing sanctions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter on Syrian government officials and entities linked to the chemical weapons attacks; placing an embargo on arms sales and chemicals intended to be used as weapons; and establishing a sanctions committee and panel of experts to monitor the implementation of these measures. Russia and China vetoed the draft resolution, which blocked its adoption. Bolivia also voted no. Nine Security Council members voted yes, and three abstained.
The Trump administration’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has hit the ground running. She spoke truth to power by strongly calling out the United Nations for its anti-Israel bias and double standards. Her predecessor, Samantha Power, never came close.
After attending her first regular meeting of the UN Security Council devoted to the Middle East, including the Palestinian-Israeli situation, Ambassador Haley remarked to reporters, “The first thing I want to do is talk about what we just saw in there.” Calling the meeting “a bit strange,” Ambassador Haley noted the Security Council’s obsession with singling out Israel for condemnation.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters Wednesday that President Trump’s measures to restrict the entry of visitors to the United States from seven listed Muslim majority countries “should be removed sooner rather than later.” He added that those measures “violate our basic principles.”
Bureaucrats and diplomats at the United Nations are scrambling to adjust to the new Trump administration. One thing seems certain. The Obama days of wine and roses for the UN are over. The new U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told reporters on Friday, upon entering UN headquarters for the first time in her new role, “you are going to see a change in the way we do business.” She added that the Trump administration “is prepared and ready to go in – to have me go in, look at the UN, and everything that’s working, we’re going to make it better; everything that’s not working, we’re going to try and fix; and anything that seems to be obsolete and not necessary, we’re going to do away with.” For anyone whom might doubt that the Trump administration means business, Ambassador Haley made it clear that the administration would be “taking names” of “those who don’t have our back.”
Samantha Power held her farewell press conference as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on January 13th. She used the press conference to follow up on the themes she had previously laid out in her detailed cabinet exit memo and in her remarks at the Security Council’s January 10th open debate on the maintenance of international peace and security.
Ambassador Power trumpeted her view of the importance of the United Nations in addressing global crises and the Obama administration’s purported accomplishments in taking the lead, as she put it in her exit memo, to “leverage UN capabilities in service of international security, making the United States safer and stronger.” In a veiled warning to the incoming Trump administration and to a Congress increasingly disenchanted with the United Nations, Ambassador Power claimed that cutting U.S. funding to the United Nations would be “extremely detrimental” to U.S. interests
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted the sad truth about the United Nations on the day after Christmas, saying it was “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”
Not long after the president-elect’s tweet appeared, the UN propaganda machine churned out a rebuttal, tweeting the following image listing its Pollyannaish version of its major accomplishments: (See Image Right)
Other than its valuable work in supporting and coordinating the delivery by aid workers of food, medical and other humanitarian supplies to areas of the world beset by natural disasters or conflict, the United Nations has failed, or has been largely irrelevant, in key areas for which it seeks to take credit. This article will focus on peacekeeping, poverty reduction, protection of human rights, help in alleviating the plight of refugees and migrants, and use of diplomacy to prevent conflict.
For example, the UN boasts about its peacekeeping missions, which it says keep peace on four continents. What the UN narrative leaves out is the cholera its peacekeepers brought to Haiti, killing nearly 10,000 people, for which the UN has very belatedly accepted some responsibility. The narrative also leaves out the continuing sexual abuse and exploitation scandal involving UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, which UN senior officials tried initially to cover up.
President Obama is ending his presidency the way he began it—throwing Israel to the wolves. On September 23, 2009, he told the United Nations General Assembly, “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlements.” On December 23, 2016, Obama broke with the longstanding practice of both Democratic and Republican administrations to protect Israel from one-sided UN resolutions. He let the UN Security Council pass a resolution declaring that the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” The resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” The Obama administration abstained, rather than veto this resolution as it had done with regard to a similar resolution back in 2011. All other members of the Security Council, including the United Kingdom and France, voted for the latest outrage against Israel coming out of a UN chamber.
The United Nations Security Council voted Friday to approve a resolution demanding that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” It declared that the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” The Obama administration abstained, allowing the resolution to pass. All other members of the Security Council, including the United Kingdom and France, voted for it.
The United Nations Security Council managed to pass a consensus resolution unanimously on December 19th regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo, Syria. Security Council Resolution 2328 (2016) emphasizes the importance of ensuring “the voluntary, safe and dignified passage of all civilians from the eastern districts of Aleppo or other areas, under the monitoring of and coordination by the United Nations and other relevant institutions, to a destination of their choice.” It calls for “neutral” UN monitoring of evacuation from the city as well as the safety of civilians who choose to stay behind. All parties are to provide the monitors with “safe, immediate, and unimpeded access.” The resolution also calls on all parties to respect and protect all medical and humanitarian personnel, “their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities throughout the country.”
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres will commence his duties as secretary general on January 1, 2017, succeeding Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Guterres took the oath of office on December 12th in a ceremony presided over by the president of the UN General Assembly. Mr. Guterres, a former Socialist prime minister of Portugal, former UN high commissioner for refugees, and president of the Socialist International from 1999 to 2005, then delivered an address outlining his priority to restore trust in the United Nations. “Our duty to the people we serve,” he said, “is to work together to move from fear of each other to trust in each other. Trust in the values that bind us, and trust in the institutions that serve us.” Mr. Guterres emphasized the important role that the UN could play in preventing conflicts. He also wants the UN to become a more nimble institution which focuses “more on delivery and less on process, more on people and less on bureaucracy.”
The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2321 (2016) on November 30th. It condemns the North Korean (DPRK) regime’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles while its people continue to suffer under inhumane conditions. The resolution strengthens previous UN-imposed sanctions on the DPRK in response to its fifth nuclear test conducted on September 9, 2016.
The prior resolutions have failed to slow, much less eliminate, the DPRK’s nuclear program involving the development and testing of both nuclear device and ballistic missile capabilities. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pointed out in his remarks to the Security Council following the vote, “The Council first adopted a resolution on the DPRK nuclear issue in 1993. Twenty-three years and six sanctions resolutions later, the challenge persists.”
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