7 Problems with the Human Rights Council

  • 1

    Obsessed with demonizing Israel:

    • Permanent agenda item only for Israel. Israel is the only country at the Human Rights Council whose human rights record is examined under a special agenda item (No. 7), while all other countries’ records are scrutinized in the general debate.
    • More condemnatory resolutions than any other country. Each year, Israel is condemned in at least four annual resolutions (five until 2020 when two of the resolutions were combined) and is the subject of at least five critical reports, while oppressive regimes like Iran and North Korea are criticized in only one resolution. Most of the world’s worst regimes are not subject to any criticism.
    • More special sessions than any other country. Israel has been the subject of more special sessions than any other country. Since the Human Rights Council was created, it has held 1 special session on Libya, 1 on Iran, 3 on Myanmar, 5 on Syria, and 9 on Israel.
    • More commissions of inquiry than any other country. Israel has been the subject of more commissions of inquiry than any other country. Since the Human Rights Council was founded, it has created 1 commission of inquiry on North Korea, 1 on Iran, 2 on Libya, 2 on Myanmar, 2 on Syria, and 9 on Israel. Since May 2021, Israel has been the subject of a Commission of Inquiry with a never-ending mandate whose broad scope includes to examine “root causes” of the conflict, including alleged “systematic discrimination” based on race. This Commission of Inquiry is also known as the Pillay Commission because it is led by former High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who before being appointed was already known for her strong anti-Israel positions, including supporting Agenda Item 7, championing the antisemitic Durban process, lobbying for BDS, and declaring Israel to be guilty of apartheid.
    • Discriminatory UN mandate. The UN human rights expert on Palestine is mandated only to investigate “Israel’s violations” of international law, and not violations by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Therefore, current mandate-holder Francesca Albanese routinely ignores abuses by Palestinian actors against the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians, including Hamas rocket and terror attacks against Israelis, Palestinian Authority arbitrary arrest and torture of Palestinians, and Hamas torture and extrajudicial executions of Palestinians. Moreover, she repeatedly rejects Israel’s right to exist, justifies Palestinian attacks against Israelis, and defends terrorists. After October 7th, she engaged in Hamas atrocity denial and victim-blaming against Israelis.
  • 2

    Grants impunity for most of the world’s worst regimes, adopting zero resolutions on gross human rights abuses perpetrated in, among others, Algeria, China, Cuba, Egypt, Gaza, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.

  • 3

    Includes as members serial violators of human rights who use their position as a false badge of international legitimacy. Members have included China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Venezuela.

  • 4

    Appoints anti-Western and pro-dictatorship figures as human rights experts.

    • Alena Douhan, the Special Rapporteur on human rights and unilateral coercive measures uses her UN platform to defend some of the worst human rights violators, including Iran, Syria, Cuba, China, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. She also undertook a major propaganda visit to Venezuela, portraying the Maduro regime as a victim of U.S. sanctions, and she accepted a $200,000 donation from China.
    • Former UN expert Jean Ziegler who openly defended the Maduro regime was the longest-serving council official. In 1989, he announced the creation of the “Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize,” which over the years was awarded to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan and, in 2002, to Ziegler himself.
    • Former UN expert Alfred de Zayas used his 2017 visit to Venezuela to praise the regime and post propaganda photos denying mass hunger in the country.
    • Former UN expert Idriss Jazairy used his mandate to describe the regimes of Russia, Sudan and Syria as victims of Western sanctions.
  • 5

    Allows repressive regimes like China, Cuba and Venezuela to cheat their regular human rights reviews (known as Universal Periodic Review) by arranging for fake NGO submissions praising their governments’ human rights records.

  • 6

    Appoints dictatorships to leadership positions on key human rights panels. For example:

    • In 2023, just after Iran had executed two people for using social media to criticize religion, the the Human Rights Council appointed Iran to chair the annual Social Forum, whose theme in 2023 was technology and the promotion of human rights.
    • In 2020, the Human Rights Council appointed China to the Consultative Group, a 5-member group of ambassadors that has the power to select top officials, including an expert on women’s rights, who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide.
    • In 2015, Saudi Arabia was appointed to the Consultative Group.
  • 7

    Gives a global platform to dictators and their representatives.

    • In February 2023, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian addressed the Council, while the country was in the midst of its violent crackdown against the Hijab protests following the death in custody of Masah Amini.
    • In March 2022, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed the Council, justifying Russia’s war in Ukraine and blaming it on the West.
    • In February 2019, the Human Rights Council invited Iranian Vice President Laya Joneydi to address a high-level panel on multilateralism. The Iranian official used the platform to criticize America and the West.
    • In September 2018, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was allowed to make a special address before the Human Rights Council where he told lies to deny his country’s human rights abuses.
    • In November 2015, the Human Rights Council rolled out the red carpet for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who delivered a 40-minute propaganda speech to a special Human Rights Council meeting, greeted by a standing ovation.