Anne Bayefsky is a Canadian human rights specialist closely associated with right-wing "pro-Israel" factions in the United States and internationally. A senior fellow at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, Bayefsky has also been affiliated with UN Watch, a Geneva-based organization largely devoted to criticizing what it views as the unfair bias against Israel at the United Nations; and the Israel-based Ariel Center for Policy Research, a Likud Party-affiliated organization that supports the work of hawkish writers in the Middle East, North America, and Europe.
Bayefsky has written for several rightist publications, including the Weekly Standard and the National Review. The focus of much of her work is the UN human rights system and what she regards as the "moral depravity" of UN bodies like the Human Rights Council. She also writes frequently on U.S. foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, promoting a militarist U.S. agenda that is closely allied with hardline factions in Israel.
Like many of her neoconservative colleagues, Bayesfky has pushed a hard line on Iran, particularly by attacking the behavior of its representatives in international forums and the purported weakness of the Obama administration in confronting the country. In a March 2012 article for National Review Online, for example, Bayefsky argued that "President Obama's 'speak softly and carry a wet U.N. noodle' foreign policy took a major hit on Friday when it was discovered that Iranian thugs have been given carte blanche to participate in and wander around the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva intimidating Iranian dissidents."
She pointed to an incident at the council in March 2012 during which Iranian representatives confronted NGO officials and purportedly intimidated them as examples of the uselessness of the council and implied that the Obama administration was in effect colluding with Iranian perversion of human rights. "Under the Obama administration, American taxpayers are paying 22 percent of the costs of the U.N. "Human Rights" Council: the bulletins, the documents, the voting machines, the microphones, the global webcasts, the translations, the facilities, the salaries of U.N. officials, and on and on. Iran isn't perverting human rights and freedoms all by itself."
Bayefsky has a long track record of criticizing U.S. involvement in international human rights institutions. In an April 2007 Weekly Standard article, Bayefsky excoriated U.S. congressional figures like Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) for pushing for a stronger diplomatic effort at the United Nations. She wrote: "Congressman Lantos and his close friend former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan have long been drinking from the same well. The 'reformed' Human Rights Council was Annan's creation. Lantos is the leading advocate of the United States joining the Human Rights Council—where presumably we could jump up and down while exercising one vote out of 47. Annan, of his own volition, went to Tehran last September and urged the world not to isolate Iran immediately after the Iranian president had ignored a Security Council deadline to suspend its nuclear activities. Lantos confessed to the House Committee at the end of February that he has been begging for a visa to go to Iran for the past ten years and 'will be among the first ones to do so once this visa is granted.' Lantos was pleased with his recent trip, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-CA], to Syria. The UN shares his view that one of the world's leading state sponsors of terrorism ought to be a welcome player on the world stage. Following the election on Monday of Iran as vice chairman, the UN Disarmament Commission elected Syria as its rapporteur. The line between UN diplomacy and farce has been crossed. The real tragedy is that the defensible border between our freedom-loving rights-respecting world and the cave of our enemies is fading along with it."
In May 2006, Bayefsky published in the National Review Online a scornful critique of what she termed the UN's "depravity and deceit in combating terrorism." She highlighted the work of Louise Arbour, the UN commissioner for human rights, who in May 2006 issued what Bayefsky called a "stupefying press release" in which the human rights commissioner pledged to make the parties in the Israel-Palestinian conflict "stop this new round of violence." Arbour said in her press release: "The rising number of lives lost, whether as a result of targeted killings or suicide attacks, home-made missiles, or artillery fire, is unacceptable." According to Bayefsky, the "moral depravity" of the press release, which she argued failed to "distinguish between suicide bombing and targeting the would-be bombers or their masters," was endemic to the United Nations. After highlighting a number of similar UN actions vis-à-vis the Mideast conflict, Bayefsky concluded: "UN depravity and deceit in combating terrorism ought to send a clear signal to both President [George W.] Bush and Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert: Solutions to their common problems do not lie through the UN. Not through praying for a serious UN Security Council resolution on Iran. Not through hoping that the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will save Palestinians from the consequences of having empowered killers and racists as their representatives. Not through imagining the Middle East Quartet will drive fair and balanced negotiations. UN-led multilateralism is neither a substitute for leadership, nor a vehicle for winning the war."
In January 2003, Bayefsky launched her website, www.bayefsky.com, a compendium of resources related to the UN human rights system and treaty bodies. The website, which has received funding from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations, "was designed for the purpose of enhancing the implementation of the human rights legal standards of the United Nations. Accessibility to UN human rights norms by individuals everywhere is fundamental to their successful realization."
Somewhat surprisingly, given her later track record, Bayefsky received a grant from the liberal-leaning MacArthur Foundation in 1995 to investigate issues related to peace and international cooperation. According to her Hudson bio, Bayefsky's experience also includes serving "the Canadian delegation and NGOs such as the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and the American Society of International Law, at UN conferences worldwide, including the General Assembly, the Commission and Council on Human Rights, the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, the Beijing World Conference on Women and the Durban Racism Conferences. She is a member of the International Law Association Committee on Human Rights Law and Practice, and Editor-in-Chief of the series 'Refugees and Human Rights,' published by Brill."
Bayefsky is the author or editor of a number of books, including How to Complain to the UN Human Rights Treaty System (Kluwer Law International and Transnational Publishers, 2002); The UN Human Rights Treaty System: Universality at the Crossroads (Kluwer Law International and Transnational Publishers, 2001); The UN Human Rights Treaty System in the Twenty-First Century (Kluwer Law International, 2000); Human Rights and Forced Displacement (Martinus Nijhoff, 2000); and Self-Determination in International Law: Quebec and Lessons Learned (Kluwer Law International, 2000).