Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some Concrete Ideas on Addressing UN Anti-Israel Bias

I wrote yesterday about the Sunday conference: Hijacking Human Rights: The Demonization of Israel By The United Nations. Originally, I was going to write about Senator Norm Coleman, who proposed legislation to reduce funding to the UN Human Rights Council. I originally confused that legislation with a bill Senator Coleman introduced in 2005--S. 1383, the United Nations Management, Personnel, and Policy Reform Act of 2005, which went nowhere.

On the other hand, the current piece of legislation is H.R. 2764: Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008 has progressed much further. Anne Bayefsky describes the bill:
Alongside what passes at the U.N. for "human rights" protection, stands the eminently reasonable legislation that has come from both the House and the Senate calling for an end to American funding for the Human Rights Council. The House passed their version of the Department of State Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act on June 22 and included by unanimous agreement an amendment introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to refuse any funding for the Council. In the Senate version, proposed by Senator Norm Coleman and adopted unanimously on September 6, an exemption law was inserted by Senators Richard Lugar and Joe Biden. It would refuse funding for the fiscal year 2008 unless the President certifies either that providing the funds to the Council is in the national interest of the United States, or the U.S. is a member of the Council. Conference negotiations are underway, but some form of the restriction is expected to survive.
Though the measure is more of a gesture--the US funding discussed is only around $3 million--Senator Coleman had another suggestion. He noted that many who vote with the anti-Israel block in reality have no bone to pick with Israel--and are on friendly terms with the US. He proposed that the US use its connections and leverage through its ambassadors in those countries to pry away a portion of the support that the Arab block relies upon.

It's a start--no one is suggesting that there is any simple way of dealing with the anti-Israel bias that pervades the UN. The block of G77 undeveloped countries now includes 132 countries--out of the 192 total member states of the UN. There are various alliances of countries within the UN with common interests.

Ambassador Daniel Carmon, Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, pointed out at the conference that Israel cannot count on alliances the way the Arab countries can--unlike the Arab countries, Israel is the only Jewish state and the only Hebrew speaking country.

On the other hand, Congressman Thaddeus McCotter suggested the formation of a 'Liberty Alliance' of like-minded democratic countries, which would work together within the context of the UN. Senator Bill Frist last year went a step further when he spoke in reaction to President Bush's decision not to seek US membership on the new UN Human Rights Council:
My hope is that President Bush will consider establishing a council of democracies outside of the U.N. system that could meet regularly to truly monitor, examine and expose human rights abuses around the globe.
In The UN and Beyond: United Democratic Nations, put out by the Hudson Institute, Bayefsky writes that reform of the United Nations at this point is probably impossible, and comes the closest to a concrete suggestion:
I think, however, it would make a lot more sense to talk about a UDN, a United Democratic Nations. It could begin with a small coalition of states comprised of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia. (p. 2)
The question is whether these various suggestions of an alternative group can lead to concrete action.

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