September 22, 2010
By Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
Thanks to a certain immigration law, the Obama administration isn’t very happy with Arizona these days. But did you know the White House has gone so far as to put Arizona “on report”? And to the United Nations, no less.
That’s right. Apparently the federal government can’t handle this dispute alone. It needs to elevate it to the world stage, encouraging international criticism of the offending state. So Arizona’s alleged transgression comes up in a report the administration submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council:
“A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined.
“President Obama remains firmly committed to fixing our broken immigration system, because he recognizes that our ability to innovate, our ties to the world, and our economic prosperity depend on our capacity to welcome and assimilate immigrants. The Administration will continue its efforts to work with the U.S. Congress and affected communities toward this end.”
No wonder Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called this “downright offensive.” If the administration felt compelled to mention an unsettled legal dispute in a report to an international body, it should have at least adopted a more neutral tone. Instead, it sounds like the administration is saying, “Don’t worry, world; we’re doing all we can to show this slow, backward child of ours the error of its ways.”
Here’s a larger question, one worth considering as the United Nations gathers for its annual General Assembly meeting: Should the United States even have joined the Human Rights Council, whose membership roll includes such blatant human-rights tramplers as China and Cuba?
The HRC was created in 2006 as a replacement for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. For years, the commission had failed to hold governments accountable for violating basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Unfortunately, the HRC’s track record has been no better. In theory, it “offers an unprecedented opportunity to hold the human rights practices of every country open for public examination and criticism,” as Heritage Foundation experts Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves have noted. But in practice, the HRC “has proven to be a flawed process hijacked by countries seeking to shield themselves from criticism.”
Consider Cuba’s report to the HRC. It turns out its “democratic system is based on the principle of ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’.” And guess what? Its citizens enjoy the right to “freedom of opinion, expression and the press.” I’m sure that will surprise the thousands of Cubans who have risked life and limb to escape the island nation, and the thousands more who remain locked in Castro’s jails for political “crimes.”
China made similarly laughable assertions in its report to the HRC. It even claimed its citizens enjoy a right to religious freedom. North Korea, too, is a downright utopia, judging from its report to the U.N.
It’s bad enough these countries lie. But it’s not unexpected. What’s worse is that the U.N. accepts these demonstrably false claims at face value. The majority of member states approve these reports.
To avoid becoming a party to this charade, the Bush administration wisely declined membership in the HRC. The Obama administration reversed that policy. So we have a situation where the U.S., just by being a member, lends legitimacy to a U.N. farce on human rights. And now the administration is compounding the error by offering up a state for criticism by a body that includes some of the world’s most egregious human-rights offenders.
Talk about “downright offensive.”
Dr. Edwin Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation.
First moved on the McClatchy Wire News service
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
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