US re-examining UN rights panel role over anti-Israel bias

U.S. envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Tuesday the Trump administration is reevaluating its position on the council in relation to members’ “hypocrisy and evasion.”

It was Haley’s first appearance at the panels permanent conference building in Geneva, Switzerland.

Haley specifically cited the panel’s “chronic anti-Israel bias” as the basis for her remarks, but spent a majority of her time criticizing the utterly chaotic political situation in Venezuela and the blatant human- rights abuses under President Nicolas Maduro.

Shortly after her remarks in front of the panel, Haley offered insight into the Trump administrations plans for its role on the committee while addressing Geneva’s Graduate Institute, signaling at a U.S. exodus unless changes were made.

“In case after case, it has been a forum for politics, hypocrisy and evasion, not the forum for conscience that its founders envisioned.  If it fails to change, then we must pursue the advancement of human rights outside the council,” she told spectators in an address at the Graduate Institute.

Haley added “competitive elections” to the council and an elimination of anti-Israel bias from the panel’s agenda were of paramount concerns for the Trump administration.

On Friday, Haley penned a commentary appearing in the Washington Post, which blasted the council and called on members to rid it of its leanings and described needed changes she will introduce.

“Among other things, membership on the council must be determined through competitive voting to keep the worst human rights abusers from obtaining seats. As it stands, regional blocs nominate candidates that are uncontested. Competition would force a candidate’s human rights record to be considered before votes were cast. The council must also end its practice of wrongly singling out Israel for criticism. When the council passes more than 70 resolutions against Israel, a country with a strong human rights record, and just seven resolutions against Iran, a country with an abysmal human rights record, you know something is seriously wrong,” Haley wrote.

The U.S. has maintained a position on the council for decades, briefly interrupted by the Bush administration’s decision to boycott the panel over what it claimed was anti-Israel bias.  The U.S. resumed its spot in 2009.

In the past, panel members have included Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Cuba, and Communist China, all of which have been assailed for human-rights abuses.  Their membership has prompted questions over the value of such a panel with rights violators as members.

 

[AP] [Reuters] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Caracas Chronicles]