Citing ‘chronic bias against Israel’ the US quits the UN Human Rights Council

June 20, 2018 by JNS
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday that the U.S. is pulling out of the U.N. Human Rights Council, citing the world body’s “chronic” bias against Israel as one of the primary factors for the withdrawal.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addresses the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly on: “Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

“For too long, the human rights council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” Haley said in announcing the withdrawal. “Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded.”

Haley added that the council has a “chronic bias against Israel,” while also decrying that countries like China, Cuba and Venezuela, who all have poor human rights records, are members of the council.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon welcomed the decision by Haley, saying that the U.S. “has proven, yet again, its commitment to truth and justice and their unwillingness to allow the blind hatred of Israel in international institutions to stand unchallenged.”

“The Human Rights Council has long been the foe of those who truly care about human rights around the world,” Danon said in a statement following Haley’s announcement. “We thank President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador Nikki Haley for their leadership and call on the moral majority at the UN to hold all of its institutions accountable.”

Israel is the only country with a dedicated item at the UNHRC, known as Agenda Item 7, which mandates a discussion of Israel’s conduct with the Palestinians at every session. Agenda Item 7 is currently set for debate beginning on July 2.

During its last session in March, the UNHRC passed five resolutions condemning Israel. The UNHRC has also mandated the compiling of a “blacklist” of companies that do business with Israeli entities over the pre-1967 lines.

Ahead of the announcement, U.S. officials said that the Trump administration had concluded that efforts to institute reform in the UNHRC had failed and that withdrawal was the only option to demonstration its seriousness.

Currently there are 47 countries in the UNHRC, which was elected by the U.N. General Assembly with a specific number of seats for its region. The U.S. term on the UNHRC was scheduled to end next year when it was slated to go back to being an observer country. As an observer, the U.S. can speak out on human rights abuses, but cannot vote. Israel, which has an ambassador the presides over the U.N. bodies in Geneva, has never been one of the 47 members of the council.

Israel’s Deputy Minister for Diplomacy and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren also welcomed the decision by the U.S.

“This is a welcomed response to a body that condemned Israel more than all other countries combined. The US now signals its refusal to lend legitimacy to UN bias against Israel and Jews,” Oren wrote on Twitter.

The U.S. isn’t the only world power to express concern over Israel’s treatment. On Monday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called on the UNHRC to reform.

“We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson told the council at the beginning of its three-week session.



One Response to “Citing ‘chronic bias against Israel’ the US quits the UN Human Rights Council”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    The US isn’t wrong and is saying nothing new and a pity no other country has picked up on it instead of making you the object of a political football.

    Opposition to UN Human Rights Council Agenda Item Seven
    Press Statement

    Mark C. Toner
    Acting Spokesperson

    Washington, DC

    March 20, 2017

    The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the existence of the UN Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item Seven: “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” Today’s actions in the Council are yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel. No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the Council. The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council.

    As an expression of our deeply-held conviction that this bias must be addressed in order for the Council to realize its legitimate purpose, the United States decided not to attend the Council’s Item Seven General Debate session. It does not serve the interests of the Council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter. Later this week, the United States will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same.

    The U.S. is dedicated to the pursuit of respect for international human rights by all countries in the world and we call on all UN member states and international partners who are committed to human rights to work with us to pursue much needed reforms in the UN Human Rights Council.

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