Sunday, 22 July, 2018

National Security Adviser Defends UN Human Rights Council Withdraw

Russia strongly rebuffed U.S. criticism of its air strikes in Syria on Tuesday reminding Washington how it had support Russia calls out US ‘cynicism’ for rights council pullout
Ellis Copeland | 21 June, 2018, 04:28

The body has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories that Washington wanted removed.

Instead of focusing on real human-rights issues, the council has used its time and resources to bully Israel and question Israel's legitimacy as a sovereign state.

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".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced the decision to withdraw from the council on Tuesday. Under President George W. Bush, the USA withdrew from the council's predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, citing similar issues.

Now the Trump administration has formally sent notification of its decision, the U.N. General Assembly will organize elections for a replacement to assume the USA term through 2019.

"You put yourself on the side of Russian Federation and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue", Haley wrote.

Haley, Trump's envoy to the United Nations, said the US had given the human rights body "opportunity after opportunity" to make changes.

The decision to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council was announced on Tuesday by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN.

"This decision, in many respects, has been decades in the making", Bolton said.

"But the primary reason why the United States is pulling out of the council now is because of its efforts to reduce or eliminate of the unfair criticism, in the US' view, of Israel's treatment of Palestinians", she added. "The council is not the only table out there, but it is a significant forum for advancing American values and interests in seeing human rights safeguarded and advanced around the world".

But the new council's members still included rampant abusers such as China, Venezuela, Iran and, most recently, the Democratic Republic of the Congo - which joined even as mass graves were uncovered there. "But that is precisely why we must leave".

"Our US counterparts have shown boorish cynicism - they are reluctant to admit that they have human rights issues themselves but at the same time, they continue attempts to reshape the council to make it serve their needs, stressing that there was no place for persistent violators of human rights in the council", Zakharova pointed out.

Opposition to the decision from human rights advocates was swift.

That means the council will be left without one of its traditional defenders of human rights.

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The U.S. pullout was bound to have ripple effects for at least two countries at the council: China and Israel.

The US withdrawal "only serves to empower actors on the council, like Russian Federation and China, that do not share American values on the preeminence of universal human rights", Freedom House and 11 other global rights organizations said in a letter to Haley and Secretary Pompeo.

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

Once he receives formal notification of the USA withdrawal, Suc said he would arrange for the American seat to be removed and work with the General Assembly to elect a replacement member.

They said their calls for change, notably to fix "hypocrisy" and "unrelenting bias" against Israel were ignored.

Added Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch: "All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel". Before following through on the U.S. 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.

This week, the U.S. administration announced it was withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, citing, among other things, its anti-Israel bias.

The US "resigned its seat effective immediately", a US government official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

Officials at the United Nations in NY say the U.S. decision is regrettable - and one that Secretary-General Guterres in particular is unhappy to see. United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein on Monday called on Washington to halt its "unconscionable" policy.

"You know, we're actually self-governing in this country".

Washington's withdrawal is the latest U.S. rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

By some measures, she says, "hostility and animosity towards Israel" have fallen by roughly half.

"The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable", said the top United Nations human rights official.

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