The United Nations (U.N.) drew renewed criticism last Thursday for allowing Iran to chair its Human Rights Council Social Forum — the latest in the $53 billion organization’s series of questionable responses to the Israel-Hamas war.

The Human Rights Council (HRC) is an intergovernmental group within the U.N. tasked with “strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them.”

In May, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk announced Iran would chair its 2023 Social Forum, a two-day event for nations to “(share) knowledge, experience and best practices on science and technology.”

The appointment, closely following Iran’s quiet election to the U.N.’s Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in April, sparked immediate outrage.

Executive Director of watchdog group United Nations Watch, Hillel Neuer, noted that — just two days before Türk’s announcement — Iran had executed two men for criticizing Islam on social media.

Neuer further writes,

A persistent an egregious perpetrator of brutal crimes, including mass rape, torture, and murder, should not be allowed to occupy positions of leadership on promoting human rights, or on preventing crime, at the United Nations.

U.N. representatives maintain Iran’s election occurred because its region, the Asian-Pacific, was next in the chairmanship’s regional rotation; the role is supposed to rotate between five regions equally, though some believe it favors Asia-Pacific.

U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council Michèle Taylor felt the U.N.’s capitulations weren’t enough to justify Iran’s election, writing,

(Regional rotation) should not take precedence of promoting respect for human rights and accountability. The appointment of a representative to a country with such a deplorable human rights record severely undermines the credibility and purpose of both the UN Human Rights Council and the Social Forum.

Taylor references a third-party report the HRC had reviewed in March — two months before Iran’s election and state sponsored executions — accusing the country of “murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence and persecution.”

Initial criticism didn’t remove Iran’s election or seat on the Criminal Justice Commission, but the issue faced renewed scrutiny given the country’s financial and tactical backing of Hamas, the Gaza-based terror group which killed 1,400 Israelis in a multi-pronged, unprompted attack on October 7.

Though the HRC has called on “all parties to the conflict (in Israel and Gaza) to comply fully with international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” Iran was still allowed to chair the social forum last Thursday and Friday.

The HRC’s failure to remove Iran as chair of its Social Forum is particularly concerning considering the U.N. refused to condemn Hamas’ terrorism in its resolution demanding a humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

The proposed addition, which would have reportedly condemned “terrorist attacks by Hamas…and the taking of hostages,” failed with 88 votes in favor, 55 votes against, and 23 abstentions. The U.N. still does not recognize Hamas nor Hezbollah — the Lebanese terror group responsible for helping Hamas bomb Israel — as terrorist groups.

Americans and believers can’t dismiss the U.N.’s actions as the foibles of some far-away group because our tax dollars are funding it.

The United States contributed over $18 billion to the U.N. last year — 34% of the organization’s total budget. What’s more, of that $18 billion, only $3 billion was required for continued membership. The remaining $15 million were voluntary American donations to U.N.-affiliated programs.

Christians have a duty to rebuke antisemitism, a hatred deeply anathema to God and His chosen people, wherever it occurs.

At the same time, we know it is Christ — not ourselves — that changes hearts and triumphs over spiritual evil. In Colossians 2:15, Paul writes that Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him (ESV).”

Please pray for God to continue triumphing over evil on Earth, especially in people and places with earthly authority, and for Him to lend us courage and strength while pursuing Him and His will.


Image from Shutterstock.