Nations defend U.N. rights council after USA pullout

Thursday, 21 Jun, 2018

Standing with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slammed Russia, China, Cuba and Egypt for thwarting US efforts to reform the council.

But on this one it's hard to disagree with the truculent Trump, the Human Rights Council's about as ineffective as the amorphous, cumbersome, ambulance at the bottom of the cliff (even if on many occasions it's out of fuel) United Nations itself.

"The Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy - with numerous world's worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world's most serious offenders sitting on the council itself", Pompeo said.

The president has, in the past, been critical of the council, and has accused it of showing a bias against Israel, an ally of the U.S.

"China will continue to work with other parties and make contributions to the sound development of global human rights through constructive dialogue and collaboration", he said.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric responded to questions on Wednesday about Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' response to the USA withdrawal from the Geneva-based council.

China, Britain and the European Union lamented on Wednesday Washington's decision to withdraw from the Human Rights Council as Western countries began looking for a substitute for the coveted seat.

The United States says the council's hypocritical, self righteous about Israel and the West in general, while ignoring the abuses of numerous 47 member countries' which sit on it.

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The United States' current term on the council ends next year. "The UN Human Rights Council has always been a problem".

Among reforms the U.S. had pushed for was to make it easier to kick out member states with egregious rights records.

"It is bad news for everyone who cares about human rights", Slovenian President Borut Pahor said on the UNHRC floor in Geneva on Wednesday. In fact, that's why many of them run for a seat on the Human Rights Council in the first place: "to protect themselves from scrutiny", Haley said.

Haley urged the groups to play a constructive, not destructive, role in human rights in the future.

The council, she added, has a "chronic bias against Israel".

And the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank close to the Trump administration, defended the move, calling the council "notably incurious about the human rights situations in some of the world's most oppressive countries".

The Human Rights Council is a 47-country body that draws its mandate from the U.N. General Assembly, and meets three times a year in Geneva.

Under President Barack Obama the USA was elected for a maximum of two consecutive terms on the council by the UN General Assembly. Item 7 on "Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories" has been part of the council's regular business nearly as long as it has existed.