Australia not happy with US decision to quit UNHRC

June 20, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Australia is disappointed by the decision of the United States to resign from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Julie Bishop toasts the Australia-Israel relationship                  Photo: Eldad Ohayon

In a published statement Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: “Australia shares many of the concerns held by the US about the UNHRC, particularly its anti-Israel bias, and we have consistently supported efforts to address other matters of contention.

We are committed to progress effective and meaningful reform to enable the Council to more effectively carry out its role.

Australia will continue to work constructively on human rights issues with other countries, including the US. It was our strong preference for the US to remain a member of the UNHRC and I had made this known to senior members of the Trump Administration.

Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper reiterated Australia’s commitment to a strong multilateral human rights system and to advancing human rights globally. It is in our national interest to shape the work of the Council and uphold the international rules-based order.

Australia has pledged to be a principled, pragmatic and consultative member, bringing a unique Indo-Pacific perspective to our term and amplify the voices of our Pacific neighbours.”

Australia’s second session as a member of the UNHRC commenced in Geneva this week.

But Australian Jewish community leaders have given their thumbs up to the US move. The conservative Australian Jewish Association (AJA) welcomed the news that the US has formally announced its withdrawal from the UNHRC agreeing with the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley description of the UNHRC as “hypocritical and self-serving”.

Dr David Adler

The AJA names as some of the countries with the worst human rights on earth have had major roles. Current UNHRC membership includes such human rights “luminaries” as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, China, Afghanistan, Congo, Angola, Iraq, Pakistan and Nigeria.

 AJA President, Dr David Adler said “The UNHRC has been called out many times for its anti-Israel obsession. EVERY meeting includes the infamous agenda item 7 where Israel is singled out for condemnation. No other country is treated in this manner. Consequently, the UNHRC has passed more anti-Israel resolutions than against all other countries combined! In the 2006-16 decade, this was 68 of 135 resolutions.”  

In March this year the UNHRC added another five.

Previous pressure and strategies for reform have failed.

 Dr Adler added “This should be a simple case of doing what is right and we call on Australia to join with our major ally the United States and take a stand on principle and also announce withdrawal from the UNHRC.”

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commssion added: “We applaud the United States for withdrawing from an organisation that has been hijacked and politicised, and has now become come irrelevant.

Dvir Abramovich – ADC

The UNHRC has been plagued by bias and double standards for too long and has made a mockery of the noble values and goals of the UN charter. The most recent example was in May when the UNHRC voted to  “investigate” Israel for protecting  itself from violent demonstrators and terrorists attempting to breach the Gaza border.

The ADC has long maintained that the UNHRC has had an obsessive and hypocritical focus on Israel, unfairly attacking the Jewish state with more critical resolutions than any other country and blatantly ignoring serial human rights violators. In fact, Israel is the only state subjected to a separate, permanent agenda item at the UNHRC, which singles it for more censure and rebuke  than any other country.

Moreover, the UNHRC has also targeted and blacklisted Israeli and other companies operating in the West Bank. By doing so, it has empowered and emboldened the enemies of Israel, especially the BDS movement and their hateful attempts to delegitimize Israel. Over the years, many states have had little faith that we have in the impartiality of the commission as it relates to Israel. If the UNHRC wishes to be seen as a legitimate arm of the UN championing human rights, which includes the rights of Israelis, it requires substantive reform so it can once again become a credible contributor in the international arena.”

Co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim added: “The UN Human Rights Council has long been a forum of absurdity where the concept of human rights has been politicised and used to advance a clear anti-western agenda.

Peter Wertheim

The membership of the Council is composed of some of the world’s greatest abusers of human rights, autocratic regimes who then use their majority to pass resolution after resolution condemning Israel, which unlike its accusers is a liberal-democracy subject to the rule of law.

The Council’s standing agenda item 7, which singles out Israel, and only Israel, for regular denigration is symbolic of everything that’s wrong with the UN.

In its first 10 years of operation, the UNHRC passed more resolutions condemning Israel than the rest of the world combined. 

We hope that this move by the US will lead to the reformation of the Council into a force for good and not the political plaything of despots.”

Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council said: “The United States decision to withdraw its membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council is not unexpected, but is both principled and welcome.

Dr Colin Rubenstein

“Despite repeated attempts to reform the UN Human Rights Council, it has remained a hot-bed of anti-Israeli sentiment, passing many more resolutions condemning Israel than any other country on earth. It has also failed to condemn some of the world’s most egregious human rights violators for political reasons.

“Currently, the Council has a number of member states with dismal human rights records, including Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These member states remain uncriticised and are encouraged to sit in judgement on other global situations, while at every UN Human Rights Council meeting, there is one standing item on the agenda to condemn Israel, regardless of current events, and another to talk about human rights in the rest of the world’s countries.

“After recently winning a spot on the UNHRC, it is clear that Australia will remain a member of the UN Human Rights Council, pursuing the goal of encouraging reform from within. We welcome Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s statement that Australia will continue to push for effective and meaningful reform of the troubled body and her ongoing efforts in this regard, and also thank the government for its principled votes against one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the UNHCR and UN General Assembly in recent weeks.”

The Zionist Federation of Australia is delighted with the decision by the United States to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council and hopes that Australia will give serious consideration to following suit. 

Dr Danny Lamm

President Dr Danny Lamm said, “it has been obvious for quite some time now, that the UNHRC has lost its way. This organisation, which counts human rights luminaries such as Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Qatar and Iraq amongst its members, has an abysmal track record on Human Rights and regularly fails to call out Human Rights abuses.

He continued, “The UNHRC has an obsessive pre-occupation with Israel, which is evident in the fact that Israel is the only country with a whole article (Article 7) devoted to its alleged breaches of human rights. The ZFA also notes with appreciation the recent comments from British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson directed toward having the UHNRC stop its obsessive pre-occupation with Israel.”
Dr Lamm concluded, “The tide of indifference to the antics of the UNHRC is slowly changing and we are pleased that countries such as the US and the UK are calling out the organisation for its anti-Israel bias.  Although Australia which now sits as a member of the Council, has not yet chosen to follow suit, we are hopeful that it will not continue to stand idly by as the hypocrisy of the Council is exposed in its regular diatribes against Israel.”



4 Responses to “Australia not happy with US decision to quit UNHRC”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    You said it, Lynne. Absolutely right. My eyes glaze over at the expected politico speak of Julie Bishop as she relishes her role (glamorous to her) of Foreign Affairs and Australia speaking on the big stage she perceives the UN Human Rights Council to be. What a lot of waffle. The facts speak cogently for themselves insofar as Israel being singled out so unjustly by this UN department, and when you look at the make-up of the representative members it veers on the laughable if it were not in fact so serious a matter.

    How can Julie Bishop or Australia not see the situation clearly? Or, more pertinently, how is it that they choose to ignore it in favour of meaningless rhetoric that allows the status quo?

  2. Ron Jontof-Hutter says:

    Australia seems to be moving more towards the EU positions in foreign policy. Julie Bishop’s handwringing that “there are some concerns” is wishy washy go with the flow policies, regardless who that flow consists of.

  3. victor Grynberg says:

    They say every cloud has a silver lining. As unhappy as many of us may be with President Trump’s domestic policies, his forthright condemnation of anti-Israel bias, wherever it might occur is to be applauded. As was his courageous move to stop the bull and finally move the Embassy to Jerusalem. Now his withdrawal from the offensive UNHRC is to be applauded. Especially pleasing is the eloquence and determination of UN Rep Nikki Haley.
    she is simply the best, as the song goes. Haley for Prez in 26 i say

    • Lynne Newington says:

      Australia not happy with US decision to quit UNHRC…..
      In other words they’re quite happy for you to be subject to UN Human Rights Council Agenda [Item Seven], including The Holy See although not a full member, but awarded full voting rights able to influence decisions and recommendations of the United Nations…..

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