Danby: Australia to stay in UNHRC but join the US in fighting anti-Israel bias at the UN

June 21, 2018 by Michael Danby
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Australia should remain in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), but in America’s absence we will have to fight even harder for the organisation based at the old League of Nations headquarters in Geneva, to rebalance its focus on international human rights…writes Michael Danby.

Michael Danby

I entirely agree with American condemnation of the obsession of this organisation in condemning Israel.

In the first ten years of its existence (from 2006 to 2016) the UNHRC passed 68 resolutions condemning Israel and 67 on the rest of the world combined. In that period, there were no resolutions on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, Yemen, Iraq or the Palestinian Territories.

The UN Human Rights Council’s main 2018 session concluded with 1 resolution on North Korea, 1 on Iran, 2 on Syria, and 5 on Israel.

The Council — whose members include China, Cuba, Egypt, Qatar, Pakistan, Venezuela, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and UAE — passed zero resolutions regarding the deaths of protestors in Nicaragua, state-sanctioned murders in the Philippines or Venezuela.

There is also the notorious “Agenda item 7”, the UNHRC’s standing agenda item for condemning Israel. It is the only country-specific agenda item of the UNHRC.

António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, recently pleaded with his members not to yield to an obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (https://bit.ly/2AxgLfW). He was right.

When Eleanor Roosevelt and Rene Cassin, founded the Commission on Human Rights, the predecessor to the UNHRC, they had a grand vision that the body would protect human rights around the world. They were both staunch supporters of Israel and were committed to universal human rights. They would be repelled by what the Council has become, which is a club of autocrats that stands in judgement of liberal-democracies.

Australia will need to lead the way in fighting this trend at the UN’s second headquarters in Geneva. I point] to recent positive developments at the UN General Assembly, where a majority of states voted for a US amendment to condemn Hamas for the events in Gaza (https://bit.ly/2ypZCFA).

Michael Danby is the Federal Labor MP for Melbourne Ports



One Response to “Danby: Australia to stay in UNHRC but join the US in fighting anti-Israel bias at the UN”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    I agree with my local Melbourne Ports MHR Mr Danby, something I rarely do, that Australia should remain in the UNHRC. Better to be in it and try to influence it rather than abandon it as the Yanks have done.

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