Friday, June 22, 2018

The World Is Still a Dangerous Place

Thomas O. Melia,

Of course the UN is flawed. Still, it’s where governments go to do some diplomacy.

Haley image from

There is a lot to like in what Ambassador Nikki Haley has done since arriving at the United Nations last year, especially her outspokenness on human rights issues. ...

She and her team at USUN have doggedly pressed in the underbelly of the UN bureaucracy on behalf of human rights NGOs, whose credentials to attend UN meetings were being blocked by various dictatorships, and succeeded in getting their access restored. Nikki Haley appears to have become adept at public diplomacy [JB emphasis] and insider bare-knuckle maneuvers both. ...

So it is puzzling that she has taken the lead on the U.S. withdrawal mid-term from the UN’s Human Rights Council this week, ceding on an important, highly visible field of diplomatic battle, apparently on grounds that it is too hard to prevail in meetings with thuggish governments, and on grounds they are consistently too mean toward Israel. This departure means that the U.S. now joins Iran, North Korea and Eritrea as the only countries in the world that refuse to have anything to do with the Council. ...

After a sustained surge of democratic advancement after 1989, the world has now seen a dozen years of annual decline globally in overall democratic performance, as Freedom House has well documented. If the U.S. is going to keep the democracy and human rights flags flying during this global democratic recession, then our government is going to have to show up and speak up at the meetings—and enlist the cooperation of the like-minded that remain. That is how the minority party begins to build toward a majority.

Thomas O. Melia was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (2010-2015) and Assistant Administrator of USAID (2015-2017) during the Obama Administration, and is currently a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute

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