The United Nations, Human Rights and Terrorism: Time to Wake Up?

The United Nations is falling into the hands of rogue states and dictators. It should not be a partisan matter to criticize it.

One of the UN's lofty objectives is to secure "fundamental human rights" and fight terrorism. But, unfortunately, its track record reveals the opposite.

The UN Human Rights Commission was created in 1946 to secure, well, basic human rights. But eventually, it became the world's foremost hiding-place for abusive governments who flocked to the commission in the hope of dampening its voice.

In course of the 1980s and 1990s, governments in Africa, Asia and the Middle East elected commission members who increasingly resembled a club of outlaws, dedicated to protecting themselves from scrutiny rather than upholding human rights standards.

On that basis, the body was replaced by the Human Rights Council in 2006.

Today, one year and two months into its existence, the Council remains nothing but a kangaroo court at which the world's villains pass judgment on Western democracies, in particular Israel (which has already been singled out in 75 percent of the council's state-specific resolutions). At the same time, it deliberately refuses to investigate state-sponsored brutality in countries such as North Korea, Burma and Zimbabwe.

The body's flaws are inherent: the UN General Assembly conveniently "forgot" to specify membership criteria, such as actually respecting human rights.

As a result, it still includes the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Egypt, Qatar, Russia and Saudi Arabia. In fact, less than half of its members are fully free democracies. And after a successful take-over bid of regional blocs within the council, the Organization of the Islamic Conference now dominates it. In fact, it recently adopted a resolution entitled "Combating Defamation of Religions," stating that speech must "be exercised with responsibility" and limited to protect "public order, public health or morals and respect for religions and beliefs."

Interestingly, the only religion mentioned is Islam.

Terrorism is not mentioned in the initial UN Charter. However, in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1373, obliging all members to "criminalize assistance for terrorist activities, deny financial support and safe haven to terrorists and share information about groups planning terrorist attacks".

But in course of the almost seven years that have passed, UN-bodies increasingly seem to be serving as platforms for terrorist sympathizers.

Recently, the UN Economic and Social Council, which according to the UN Charter is slated to "make recommendations for the purpose of promoting respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all," awarded "consultative status" to the Saudi Arabia-based International Islamic Relief Organization. The group has separately been designated by the U.S. Treasury Department and the United Nations as a front for Al Qaeda.

Furthermore, under the UN-logo, the body's Palestinian representative recently paid tribute to a group of terrorists (or "martyrs"), including Mahmoud Najeeb Nazzal, commander of the Islamic Jihad's military wing, the al-Quds Brigades and Mohammad Omar Salah Ziab, a member of al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's armed wing, who was planning to carry out a terror attack at an Israeli checkpoint.

And as late as last week, the Security Council rejected a proposal to expand the mandate of UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon, thus preventing it from taking a more pro-active role in the fight against the terrorist-group Hizbullah's activities in the southern part of the country.

This Congress and the next president needs to figure out whether or not it is worthwhile continuing to fund a body -- or an organization -- which directly or indirectly supports human rights abuses and terrorism. To that end, we salute Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican of Minnesota, who proposes to cut off funds to the Human Rights Council. Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California has supported the measure.

Now that the UN Security Council has voted to expand the U.N.'s involvement in Iraq, we will get a chance to see whether more attention will be given to the body's increasingly flawed attention to these critical issues. We cannot improve the UN with the means that it takes unless we occasionally highlight facts that are inconvenient to its officials and member states. This is not a partisan issue.

In fact, if member states do not keep development funds out of the hands of dictators, the pressure for badly needed reforms will eventually dissipate. The responsibility should weigh particularly heavy on the United States and its taxpayers, which provides 22 percent of the entire UN budget.

It is time to wake up.