Side Note

The UN human rights council never imagined anyone would quit

Days after the United States announced its departure from the UN Human Rights Council, the 47-person body is racing to find a replacement. Although Vojislav Šuc, president of the Human Rights Council, has vowed to elect a new member “as soon as possible,” the mechanics of how to do that are not clear.

The Council, which was created in 2006, has no provisions for replacing a member — in a vaguely inspiring display of optimism, it apparently did not predict it would have to contend with many resignations from a human rights council. Sadly, violating every last shred of decorum upon which our society rests has been the U.S.’s modus operandi for the last two years.

Elections for the Human Rights Council are usually held on a three-year basis, but the United States was only about halfway through its term when the U.S. decided to pull out of its seat on Tuesday. Upon departure, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley criticized the Council as a “protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.”

“Since the establishment of the council, no member of the council has withdrawn and so there’s no past practice,” Brendan Varma, the spokesman for UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak, said in a public briefing on Wednesday.

Only one part of the replacement process is clear: because the Council is elected on a geographic basis, the new member will have to come from the same region as the U.S. In this case, that means the replacement country must belong to the “Western Europe and others” group.