President Trump often gets knocked for undermining international institutions, but outfits like the United Nations do a good job of discrediting themselves. Behold last week’s U.N. Human Rights Council elections.
On Tuesday Cuba, Russia and China won seats on the 47-seat body. Now that’s a trifecta. The newly elected members will be “responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe” alongside current members like Venezuela and Eritrea. Today 51% of Human Rights Council members “fail to meet the minimal standards of a free democracy,” according to United Nations Watch. That will rise to 60% with the distinguished new members.
Cuba has been a political prison for decades. Russia won a seat despite the recent assassination attempt of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. China won only 139 votes, down from 180 in 2016. The Chinese Communist Party has never respected individual liberty, but some countries are growing warier. Beijing recently has consumed Hong Kong, stepped up threats to democratic Taiwan, and expanded its repressive anti-minority campaign from Xinjiang to Tibet.
George W. Bush presciently refused to seek a seat on the council when it was created in 2006, and Barack Obama had little to show for years of involvement. The Trump Administration tried to overhaul membership requirements to avoid embarrassments like last week’s. The U.S. withdrew in 2018 after its reform push failed.
Then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley noted the council’s “disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights.” The organization condemned Israel 85 times between 2006 and 2019, United Nations Watch data show. That’s more condemnations than of Algeria, Belarus, China, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and Zimbabwe—combined.
Joe Biden tweeted in May that “Trump’s international failures have cleared a path for Cuba to join the UN Human Rights Council.” Mr. Biden’s memory may be foggy, because Cuba was elected to the body in 2009, 2013 and 2016 while he was Vice President. Mr. Biden said last year he would rejoin the Human Rights Council.