The United States told the U.N.’s Human Rights Council that “critically necessary changes” must be made in order to facilitate future U.S. participation.
“As you know, the United States is looking carefully at this Council and our participation in it”, Ambassador Nikki Haley told the UN body at today’s session in Geneva, Switzerland.
Haley clarified the U.S. position in a follow-up address to the Geneva Graduate Institute:
“America does not seek to leave the Human Rights Council.”
“We seek to reestablish the Council’s legitimacy.”
“Countries like Venezuela, Cuba, China, Burundi, and Saudi Arabia occupy positions that obligate them to, in the words of the resolution that created the Human Rights Council, “uphold the highest standards” of human rights. They clearly do not uphold those highest standards.”
The Ambassador described “critically necessary changes”. “First, the UN must act to keep the worst human rights abusers from obtaining seats on the Council.”
“Second, the Council’s Agenda Item Seven must be removed.”
This, of course, is the scandalous provision that singles out Israel for automatic criticism. There is no legitimate human rights reason for this agenda item to exist. It is the central flaw that turns the Human Rights Council from an organization that can be a force for universal good, into an organization that is overwhelmed by a political agenda.
Since its creation, the Council has passed more than 70 resolutions targeting Israel. It has passed just seven on Iran. This relentless, pathological campaign against a country that actually has a strong human rights record makes a mockery not of Israel, but of the Council itself.
The Council’s effort to create a database designed to shame companies for doing business in Israeli controlled areas is just the latest in this long line of shameful actions.
Blacklisting companies without even looking at their employment practices or their contributions to local empowerment, but rather based entirely on their location in areas of conflict is contrary to the laws of international trade and to any reasonable definition of human rights. It is an attempt to provide an international stamp of approval to the anti-Semitic BDS movement. It must be rejected.
Getting rid of Agenda Item Seven would not give Israel preferential treatment. Claims against Israel could still be brought under Agenda Item Four, just as claims can be brought there against any other country. Rather, removal of Item Seven would put all countries on equal footing.
The Council is no more justified in having a separate agenda item on Israel than it is on having one for the United States, or Canada, or France, or the United Kingdom. More appropriate would be to have an agenda item on North Korea, Iran, and Syria, the world’s leading violators of human rights.
Haley summed up saying:
“These changes are the minimum necessary to resuscitate the Council as a respected advocate of universal human rights.”
“For our part, the United States will not sit quietly while this body, supposedly dedicated to human rights, continues to damage the cause of human rights.”