Commentary Magazine


Topic: currently prosecuting opposition leader

Iran Wants In

As we noted last month, Iran is making a bid for membership on the United Nations’s Human Rights Council. Yes, we’ve passed farce awhile back when Libya joined the august body of despotic regimes — which spends its time pronouncing on the imagined offenses of the one democracy in the Middle East. (Hint: it isn’t the Islamic Republic of Iran.) The Wall Street Journal‘s editors note that Iran wants a piece of the action:

Among its presumptive qualifications, says Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, is that last June’s elections were “an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom.” Other contenders vying for election include the Maldives, which bans the public practice of all religions save Sunni Islam; and Malaysia, whose judiciary is currently prosecuting opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on dubious charges of sodomy.

But the disgrace is not that Libya or Iran may sit on the Human Rights Council; it’s that the U.S. does. As the editors remark, “A year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that by joining the Council—the Bush Administration had refused—the U.S. ‘will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system.’ Whatever they’re doing, it doesn’t seem to be working.” Well working for whom, I guess is the question. America’s presence on the Human Rights Council provides a patina of respectability to the thugs who appear periodically to condemn Israel, raise the banner for terrorists and their state sponsors, and dream up ways to impinge on the free expression of anyone who might criticize the less-than-admirable human-rights record in their own country.

If we want to stop the erosion of America’s moral standing in the world, a good way to start would be by leaving the Human Rights Council. And then we could actually begin condemning, loudly and specifically, the atrocities of the Iranian regime. Too much to ask? There’s always hope for change — but, regrettably, for the Obama administration that too often seems to stop at the water’s edge.

As we noted last month, Iran is making a bid for membership on the United Nations’s Human Rights Council. Yes, we’ve passed farce awhile back when Libya joined the august body of despotic regimes — which spends its time pronouncing on the imagined offenses of the one democracy in the Middle East. (Hint: it isn’t the Islamic Republic of Iran.) The Wall Street Journal‘s editors note that Iran wants a piece of the action:

Among its presumptive qualifications, says Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, is that last June’s elections were “an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom.” Other contenders vying for election include the Maldives, which bans the public practice of all religions save Sunni Islam; and Malaysia, whose judiciary is currently prosecuting opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on dubious charges of sodomy.

But the disgrace is not that Libya or Iran may sit on the Human Rights Council; it’s that the U.S. does. As the editors remark, “A year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that by joining the Council—the Bush Administration had refused—the U.S. ‘will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system.’ Whatever they’re doing, it doesn’t seem to be working.” Well working for whom, I guess is the question. America’s presence on the Human Rights Council provides a patina of respectability to the thugs who appear periodically to condemn Israel, raise the banner for terrorists and their state sponsors, and dream up ways to impinge on the free expression of anyone who might criticize the less-than-admirable human-rights record in their own country.

If we want to stop the erosion of America’s moral standing in the world, a good way to start would be by leaving the Human Rights Council. And then we could actually begin condemning, loudly and specifically, the atrocities of the Iranian regime. Too much to ask? There’s always hope for change — but, regrettably, for the Obama administration that too often seems to stop at the water’s edge.

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