Two interviews by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, on June 19-20, 2018, on U.S. exit from the UN Human Rights Council.
Transcript Radio Interview with Mark Levin, June 19, 2018
John Bolton: Glad to be with you. Thanks for having me.
Mark Levin: So we did something at the UN today, the President did; tell us about that.
JB: Well, the president authorized the US to withdraw from the UN human rights council, and in fact it goes beyond that: we will no longer fund our share of the cost of the human rights council—or the high commissioner for human rights.
And the reason for that is, that the human rights council [and ] the High Commissioner are fundamentally misdirected, misguided. They don’t advocate human rights, they’ve been actually used by human rights abusers against the United States, against Israel, and its time to get off.
This is very important, it’s something in 2006, when I was at the UN, we voted against the creation of this new body. It was supposed to be a reform of the previous UN human rights commission; it was not. The Bush Administration didn’t join, even after we were outvoted. Obama did. This reverses Obama’s decision.
Levin: Why did Obama so desperately want us to be a member of this?
JB: Because it’s part of the theology of the Left in America, that really all nations, they simply are equal. Everybody’s human rights record is fully subject to scrutiny by the international community, you know, Iran, the United States, pretty much all the same thing. Everybody gets judged on performance. I really think that the rejection of that worldview is perhaps the most important aspect of the president’s decision here. Because it’s certainly true that the human rights council is filled with human rights abusers. They get on the council to protect themselves. It’s true that the council’s been used in grossly unfair ways against Israel, and against the United States in many respect. But the real issue here, I think, is American sovereignty.
I think its something you’re going to see, the administration keen defend over the next couple of years. A lot of different institutions, a lot of different questions, a lot of different ways of looking at it. But fundamentally here, this is a rejection of the notion that multilateral organizations are in a position to judge representative governments like the United States, or to try and impose their view of what an adequate human rights performance is.
Levin: Over the decades, particularly on the Left, but some republicans too, have pushed for various treaties, which would be overseen by various institutions that have as their effect, the degrading of American sovereignty. That is, taking decision-making out of our constitutional republic away from the American people and our institutions, and essentially exporting them. And this seems to be an ideology of the left, pretty much. Because I even see some leftists now objecting to what you just did, at the UN.
JB: Sure, this is fundamentally in their view about tying Gulliver down. Tying the United States down. Binding us with rules and formulations that they make up that we’re supposed to adhere to, whether they would be adopted by our democratic and constitutional institutions, or not.
Over the years, the UN human rights establishment has criticized the US for not conforming to international human rights norms. Of course, even though we have a constitution and a bill of rights that gives us the maximum amount of constitutionally protected freedom in the world.
And the effort here is to whittle away at what the constitution gives us, and supersede the sovereignty we enjoy with a kind of supra-national framework.
Now, this comes in a lot of different ways. This is a very complex subject, but the devotees of that approach are content to proceed over a long period of time. They’re playing a very long game. They recognize that the American constitution is the single most important embodiment of American exceptionalism around the world —and that they cannot stand.
So the decision to get out of the human rights council is justified on many grounds, no doubt about it. I simply flag it for your listeners as an indication, I think, that the president has a much larger view of the American sovereignty and American exceptionalism. This is one manifestation of it, in a very egregious case, but I think more will be coming.
Levin: So more to come? You know I’m not encouraging this, you all will do what you want, I’ve said many times at least on this radio show over the decade, decade and a half, we ought to create a new organization of relatively free countries and free countries, relatively democratic countries and democratic countries. And leave all the genocidal police states to their own organization. Is that something that you can foresee one day, if not in this administration, maybe one day in the future?
JB: I think that’s the sort of thing that we should aspire to when we’ve dealt with a lot of the problems we’ve got today around the world. But in the meantime, I think that the most important thing is for the United States, and I know you agree with this, is to stick with its own constitution and not fall to the blandishments of others who say, “Oh my goodness this problem or that problem is so complicated. We have to give up American sovereignty to international organizations, we have to succumb to international law, we have to recognize some authority greater than that conferred by the legitimacy of our own constitution.”
I don’t think for secular purposes, I’m leaving religious beliefs out here of course, but for secular purposes, for purposes of government, I think its very clear: There’s no higher law on earth than the US constitution. And that’s something that the left gags on when they hear.
But we’ve struck a small blow for that today in getting out of the human rights council. As I said, there are many reason to justify, and Nikki Haley laid them out in her statement, Mike Pompeo concurred in that, so it’s a noteworthy decision in and of itself. But I just wanted people to know this is not the last were going to hear about the president’s concern for our sovereignty.
Levin: And its very exciting, I know you’re right, because you said it three times. Let me ask you this real fast we only have a minute. Can you give us an example of some of the council members on this, or in this organization?
JB: Well you’ve had Iran, you’ve had the Congo, you’ve had Russia and China, are on it almost all the time. As I said, human rights abusers, countries that really should be criticized, get on precisely to protect themselves from criticism, and to gang up on Israel. This is something we saw over the course of the UN human rights commission which we got rid of in 2006, but the UN was really incapable of really reforming it in this new manifestation the human rights council, which is why I was proud to vote against it in 2006, I was proud we didn’t join it, I was appalled when the Obama administration did join it. They had no success in making it better, and we’ve now acknowledged that, and President Trump has taken us out, and defunded this organization.
Levin: Well, John Bolton, I’m thankful you’re there, keep up the great work, you’ve got quite a team there, God bless you my friend, we much appreciate it and well done today.
Fox and Friends, June 20, 2018
“Getting off the U.N. Human Rights Council is an assertion of American determination to stick by its Constitution and not to recognize that there is some higher authority at the U.N., whether it is the Council or the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to judge our performance or to give us advice on how to implement the Constitution.”
“We’re perfectly capable of doing that ourselves. We make our share of mistakes and we correct our mistakes. That’s what this is about, self-governance,” Bolton added.
He said the international body was “not worthy of its name.”
Haley said the council acted as a “protector of human rights abusers and cesspool of political bias” and accused the body of “politicizing and scapegoating countries with positive human rights records.”
Bolton said that the decision was a long time coming and backed Haley in arguing that the council did not live up to its name.
“This decision, in many respects, has been decades in the making. The Human Rights Council, its predecessor the Human Rights Commission, were really not places where human rights were a priority, strange as that may seem,” Bolton said.