A rose by any other name smells as sweet. By the same token, foul odors aren't sweetened if called by another name. These truisms were proven yet again by the UN last week.
The much-discredited UN Human Rights Commission was abolished because of unabashed politicization, as manifested most in its obsessive demonization of Israel - singled out for censure on any occasion and under any pretext - while the commission studiously turned a blind eye to truly acute human rights abuses.
As part of a much-touted undertaking to reform the UN, the defunct and unlamented commission was last March 15 replaced by the UN Human Rights Council. The accompanying fanfare promised sincere introspection, contrition and, most of all, a cleaning up of the commission's shameful act.
It sadly took no more than the new council's inaugural session in Geneva to dispel all illusions. The commission may be called a council, but it's just as malodorous. The preposterous patterns of old immediately reasserted themselves in full.
Only one country-specific censorious resolution was passed - against Israel. Moreover, the council discerned nothing more urgent with which to occupy itself than to establish a review of Israel's alleged human rights violations as a permanent agenda item at each and every session from hereon.
A report on Israeli "transgressions" has already been commissioned for the council's September session. A special deliberation of the current hostilities is to be held soon.
This is a carbon copy of what existed under the commission's auspices, with one exception. The commission held a single annual session. The council is to treat us to its extravaganzas three times a year.
Yet again Israel found itself under fire from a chorus of the Arab and Muslim world's dubious standard-bearers of human liberties, with Syria leading the onslaught. Egypt and Jordan, sadly, joined in with relish, regardless of their peace treaties with Israel.
Of 26 council seats allotted to Africa and Asia, Muslim/Arab countries account for 16.The roll of members with far-from-sterling human rights records includes China, Pakistan, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Djibouti, Indonesia, Azerbaijan and Russia.
With cards thus stacked against Israel from the outset, 29 states supported the anti-Israel initiative. Twelve (EU nations, Switzerland and Japan) opposed. The US isn't a council member. Five states abstained.
The Geneva-based NGO, UN Watch, criticized the council for showing "that we are back in the dark days of selectivity and politicization that, as Kofi Annan said, led to the demise of the council's predecessorâ€¦In Geneva, tragically, it's business as usual." Indeed the mass murders in the Darfur region of Sudan were all but glossed over, with a meaningless nonspecific resolution which names no culprits. Genocide perpetrated by Arabs is immune to scrutiny, while exclusive focus is directed at anti-Israeli fabrications.
If Arab and Muslim states truly cared about human rights, they'd work to put their own houses in order rather than cynically hurl invective at the only democracy in their region. Instead, with Egypt and Jordan dismally on board, the council is yet another forum in which the Arab world continues to make war against Israel. Those Arab countries which claim to have subscribed to the two-state solution, and in some cases are committed to it by treaty, hugely discredit the professions of peace that ostensibly constitute the crux of the Saudi initiative every time they engage in such Israel-vilification.
The built-in flaw at UN institutions - whether they're dubbed commissions or councils - won't be eliminated unless the world's democracies stand up to the danger that threatens them too, even if Israel currently seems the global punching-bag. Because of their numerical preponderance, Arab/Muslim states can skew all international discourse to the detriment of Western values.
It is heartening that Europe and Japan sided with Israel in this instance, but ultimately the UN's latest "human rights" forum amounts to another case of democracies acquiescing to bullying facilitated by a predetermined anti-democratic majority.