Earlier this week, I discussed the Trump administration’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the farcical U.N. Human Rights Council. Our stated reasons for pulling were that the Council, which includes notorious human rights abusers (e.g., China, Cuba, and Venezuela), tolerates atrocities and exhibits blatant bias against Israel.
Now, it has been alleged that the U.S. withdrew at least in part because a representative of the Council wrote a report criticizing America for having too much poverty and warning that President Trump’s policies could exacerbate the problem. Phillip Alston, sent by the Council to report on poverty in the U.S., claims that someone at the State Department told him at the outset of his investigation that what he reported might be a factor in whether the U.S. remained on the Council. The Washington Post says that two other people who were at the meeting back up Alston’s claim.
I doubt that Alston’s report figured in the decision by Nikki Haley to withdraw. Before Alston ever showed up to investigate the U.S., Haley had threatened that the U.S. would withdraw because of the Council whitewashes human rights abuses by various dictators and singles out Israel for abuse. The Council continued these practices. Thus, there is no reason to conclude that, whatever that State Department official may have said to Alston, his report figured in Haley’s decision.
However, Alston’s report would be additional grounds for withdrawing, in my view. The existence of poverty in a country does not constitute a human rights violation under any reasonable analysis. It certainly doesn’t in a country where poverty generally can be avoided simply by finishing high school, getting a full-time job, and waiting until age 21 to get married and have children.
And it certainly doesn’t in a country that provides substantial welfare payments, food stamps, and other benefits to the poor, as the U.S. does. Alston apparently would like the U.S. welfare system to be more generous. That’s his right. But it’s not the U.N.’s proper function to take sides in such domestic policy disputes as how much money we should spend on welfare.
To be fair, Alston claims he was invited to study poverty in the U.S. by then-President Obama. Clearly, Obama wanted the Council to back his push for various spending programs he, and others on the left, favor. But the Council shouldn’t allow itself to be used in this way. If it does, it assumes the risk that the side it is not taking won’t be pleased.
The Council was more than happy to assume this risk. It exists to promote leftism — broadly (and correctly) defined to include bashing Israel — and to cover up atrocities committed by the enemies of America and Israel.
Thus, if the Trump administration did withdraw from the Council in part because of Alston’s report, I applaud it for doing so.