Clinton: UNHRC bias against Israel undermines its work
LAST UPDATED: 02/28/2011 18:12
After opening session, UN Watch head Hillel Neuer says council's report on Libyan human rights is "an insult to the victims."
Hillary Clinton Photo: Reuters
The United Nations Human Rights Council must abandon its bias against Israel,
which undermines its work, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday
“The structural bias against Israel – including a standing
agenda item for Israel, whereas all other countries are treated under a common
item – is wrong. And it undermines the important work we are trying to do
together,” she told the UNHRC at the opening of its 16th session.
member states, we can take this council in a better, stronger direction,” she
Almost since its inception in 2006, the council has been
criticized for focusing on Israel to the exclusion of other human rights issues
around the globe.
In Jerusalem last month, UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Navi Pillay said she believed that the council had dealt properly with
The council has turned Israel into a permanent item on its
agenda. This means that at every session, the seventh agenda item is always
dedicated to Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian
Similarly, although there are eight countries with special
rapporteurs assigned to investigate their human rights abuses, the investigator
for the abuses in the Palestinian territories is the only one that is
In the last five years, the council has issued 51
condemnations against countries, of which 35 were against Israel.
on the council’s agenda for this session, it is expected to spend a day devoted
to Israeli violations of human rights. It had also intended to spend time on a
report noting the improved situation of human rights in Libya.
executive director Hillel Neuer called on the HRC to remove the report on Libyan
human rights from the new session’s agenda.
“Although the Universal
Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism is often described by council defenders as its
saving grace, the vast majority of council members used it to falsely praise the
[Libyan] regime for its alleged promotion of human rights,” Neuer
“The report is a fraud, an insult to Libya’s victims, and should be
withdrawn immediately,” he added.
On Monday, Clinton said that “the
council must apply a single standard to all countries based on the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. It cannot continue to single out and devote
disproportionate attention to any one country.”
Proponents of the
council’s attitude toward Israel have claimed that as Israel’s “occupation” of
the West Bank has lasted for 43 years, its position on the matter is
On Monday, the main topic was Libya. Still, Turkish Foreign
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu diverged from that issue to recall how nine months ago,
the HRC had taken action against Israel’s “grave violations of human rights and
international humanitarian law.” After the IDF killed nine Turkish citizens
during its raid on the Gaza bound flotilla, the HRC launched a fact-finding
mission, he said.
To those who voted against the mission, Davutoglu said,
“I must issue a warning. Such positions carry the risk of emboldening those
countries who persistently violate human rights. One day, others may follow
suit. In the end, it may be one or more of your countrymen whose rights are
violated in the gravest manner. On that day, it will be those countries that
look upon this council for solutions.”
Davutoglu said that Turkey still
expected an apology from Israel, and he asked Pillay to renew her call for
action against Israel.