Diplomacy

WATCH: U.S. Envoy Blasts UN Human Rights Council for “Obsession” With Israel

The United Nations Human Rights Council’s “obsession” with Israel has diverted attention from its mission and made a “mockery” of its proceedings, limiting the good it could otherwise accomplish across the world, the American representative to the council said in a speech Wednesday.

Erin Barclay, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, noted that the United States was founded on the principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” After asserting that “the United States’ commitment to fundamental human rights is stronger than ever,” Barclay observed that “too many of the actions of this Council do not support those universal principles. Indeed, they contradict them.”

She pointed out that many nations around the world — including those represented by some members of the council — “face ongoing efforts by their own governments to restrict their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“That is unacceptable, especially given the leadership role that Council members have,” Barclay added. She then echoed statements made two weeks ago by newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, saying, “the United States also remains deeply troubled by the Council’s consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel. No other nation is the focus of an entire agenda item.”

She questioned the sense behind giving Israel a dedicated agenda item at the UNHRC, as opposed to countries like Syria, North Korea, and Iran.

“The obsession with Israel through agenda Item 7 is the largest threat to the Council’s credibility. It limits the good we can accomplish by making a mockery of this Council,” Barclay noted. “The United States will oppose any effort to delegitimize or isolate Israel – not just in the HRC, but wherever it occurs. When it comes to human rights, no country should be free from scrutiny – but neither should any democratic country be regularly subjected to unfair, unbalanced, and unfounded bias.”

Israel this week also received a pledge of support from Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that her country will be an “important player” in defending Israel against efforts to attack it through the International Criminal Court, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

The UN has long been accused of having a systemic bias against the Jewish state. In 2016, the General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions against Israel and only six on the rest of the world combined, according to the monitoring group UN Watch.

After the UN Security Council voted in December to condemn Israeli activity beyond the 1949 armistice agreement lines, including in Old City of Jerusalem, the General Assembly approved funding to create a database of companies that do business in those areas, which some fear could be used to bolster anti-Israel boycott efforts.

Earlier that month, then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged his organization’s bias against Israel, saying, “Decades of political maneuvering have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel.” Ban also criticized the UNHRC’s singular focus on Israel shortly after assuming his post in 2007, saying that he was “disappointed at the council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”

The Associated Press reported in June that Israel is the only country in the world that “has its record inspected at every single session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.” The AP added that one of the driving forces behind the UN’s focus on Israel is the influential Organization for Islamic Cooperation, which often spearheads the push for anti-Israel resolutions.

[Photo: WebTV UN ]