US AMBASSADOR to the UN Nikki Haley speaks with Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon before a Security Council vote on an Arab-backed resolution for protection of Palestinian civilians, at the UN headquarters on Friday..
(photo credit: SHANNON STAPLETON/ REUTERS)
The United States is to be applauded for its moral decision on Tuesday to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council, a politically biased body that has passed more resolutions against Israel than against other country, including heinous human rights abusers, such as Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who has proved to be a diplomat with moral integrity, courageously condemned the council for its “chronic bias against Israel.”
“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” she told a press conference at the State Department alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
According to US officials, the Trump administration’s attempts to promote reform in the council over the last year had not been productive and they concluded that immediate withdrawal was the best way to demonstrate its seriousness. Before following through on the US withdrawal threat, Haley presented several demands for reforms, including the abolition of Agenda Item 7, which, since being adopted in 2007, has singled out Israel for perpetual censure.
“The council’s continued and well-documented bias against Israel is unconscionable,” Pompeo said. “Since its creation, the council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than against the rest of the world combined.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the US move, branding the council “a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on “the moral majority at the UN to hold all of its institutions accountable.”
The 47-member HRC, based in Geneva, whose current three-week session began on Monday, was established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights around the world. Its members are elected for three-year terms by the UN General Assembly, with a specific number of seats allocated for each region of the world. Israel has never been a member, but despite a call to boycott the council from Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman last year, has up to now cooperated with it, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.
Still, Nahshon wrote in an angry tweet, “@UN_HRC has been kidnapped by the worst and bloodiest dictatorships on earth. The only ‘right’ that it promotes is the ‘right’ to attack #Israel in order to divert attention from their crimes.”
The US and Israel have repeatedly pointed to the HRC’s relentless stream of resolutions against Israel’s policies, but Haley noted that it had consistently failed to condemn actual flagrant human rights abuses by countries from Venezuela and South Sudan to Cuba, Congo and Cambodia.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced regret over the US decision, saying, “The UN’s human rights architecture plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.”
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, criticized the move. “The Trump administration’s withdrawal is a sad reflection of its one-dimensional human rights policy: Defending Israeli abuses from criticism takes precedence above all else,” he said. “All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel.”
Washington’s withdrawal leaves the UNHRC in a predicament, because the US has traditionally been the prime defender of human rights around the globe. Still, the US joined the council only in 2009 under president Barack Obama and its term on the council was due to end next year, when it was to revert to observer status.
“The UNHRC has perverted its stated mandate by serially abusing Israel, while horrific human rights abuses around the world receive scant attention, if at all,” reads a statement issued by Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s dean and associate dean. “It consistently makes a mockery of its own mandate by serving as a rubber-stamping anti-Israel kangaroo court, while providing diplomatic safe haven for state sponsors of terrorism and human rights abuse.”
Let’s hope the US decision triggers a reassessment by the UNHRC of its mission and a real change in its review of human rights violations around the world in which Israel is not the focus.
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