by: Ilse Posselt
Thursday, 02 March 2017 | When the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was established eleven years ago, the intergovernmental body within the United Nations [UN] formulated as its mandate “the promotion and protection of all human rights around the world.”
The council’s core objective is certainly a critical and much needed one. As civil wars rip at the fabric of civilian populations, radical Islamists cut a swath of terror and destruction across continents and world governments refusing to treat their citizens with basic humanity; a watchdog organization taking action against the gross violation of human rights is invaluable. Yet in the face of numerous instances of flagrant human rights abuse, one nation continues to bear the brunt of the UNHRC’s scrutiny and reproach.
However, the United States (US) spoke out on behalf of the Jewish state yesterday, stating that it might reconsider its membership in the UNHRC unless the council ends its “obsession with Israel.”
Speaking at the opening segment of the UNHRC’s 34th session in Geneva, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay assured her audience that her country’s commitment to human rights “is stronger than ever.”
She admonished, however, that the UNHRC does not appear to share that commitment. “Regrettably, too many of the actions of this council do not support these universal principles. Indeed, they contradict them.”
Barclay continued to point out one particular issue of concern. The US, she said, “remains deeply troubled by the council’s consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel.”
Barclay pointed out that the UNHRC has a policy of discussing the Jewish state at every single session under Agenda Item 7, an agenda item solely devoted to Israel’s alleged human rights abuses. Claims of human rights violations committed in all other countries in the world fall under one item which means that Israel is the only country with an entire agenda allocated to its supposed misdeeds.
“No other nation is the focus of an entire agenda item. How is that a sensible priority?” Barclay asked.
Highlighting the incongruity, she stated that millions of citizens are denied basic human freedoms in both North Korea and Iran. “Right now,” Barclay continued, “the Assad regime is bombing hospitals in Syria and forcing its own people to flee as refugees to neighboring countries to escape its murderous rule.”
“The obsession with Israel through Agenda Item 7,” she warned, “is the largest threat to this council’s credibility. It limits the good we can accomplish by making a mockery of this council.”
“When it comes to human rights,” Barclay said, “no country should be free from scrutiny, but neither should any democratic country be regularly subjected to unfair, unbalanced and unfounded bias.”
Apart from the dedicated agenda item, Israel also bears the brunt of the UNHRC in other ways. Over the past decade, the council has issued 233 country-specific resolutions. More than a quarter of these resolutions are focused on Israel and point an accusatory finger at the Jewish state for a number of alleged wrongdoings.
Barclay vowed, however, that the US is committed to stand against any attempts to “delegitimize or isolate Israel”—in the UNHRC and everywhere else.
Reminding the UNHRC of its mandate, she charged, “In order for this Council to have any credibility, let alone success, it must move away from its unbalanced and unproductive positions. As we [America] consider our future engagements, my government will be considering the Council’s actions with an eye toward reform to more fully achieve the Council’s mission to protect and promote human rights.”
Posted on March 2, 2017
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 02 March 2017)
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