Unless the United Nations Human Rights Council changes its current policies, the United States is poised to withdraw from the organization due to a pervasive “anti-Israel bias.”
According to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley last week, a decision regarding continued U.S. membership in the U.N. will be decided after its three-week session in Geneva.
The U.N.’s treatment of Israel has been a problem for years, particularly the Human Rights Council’s hostility towards America’s closest ally. President George W. Bush boycotted them for three years before President Obama brought the U.S. back into the group in 2009.
Haley has called for the Council to “end its practice of wrongly singling out Israel for criticism,” alarming Western allies and activists to the possibility that the U.S. might abandon the U.N.
A concerned response from eight groups, including Freedom House and the Jacob Blaustein Institute, resulted in a letter to Haley in May stating that they believe withdrawal from the U.N. could lead to the Council “unfairly targeting Israel to an even greater degree.” They pointed to the fact that when Bush boycotted the U.N., its performance deteriorated “both with respect to addressing the world’s worst violators and with respect to its anti-Israel bias.”
Peppered with the leaders of several countries that have despicable human rights records, the 47-member Council is tasked with reprimanding governments it sees as violating human rights. The U.N. plays an important role in international diplomacy and can order investigations, but oftentimes Washington is the only ally to defend the Israelis when the Arab-led countries attempt to pass resolutions that are not in Israel’s best interests.
“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,” wrote Haley.
John Fisher, Geneva director of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, apparently isn’t worried that the U.S. will back out of the council, stating to reporters, “Our understanding is that it is going to be a message of engagement and reform.”
He further commented on the fact that Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory are a fixed item on the council’s agenda. “It is an anomaly that there is a dedicated agenda item in a way that there isn’t for North Korea or Syria or anything else,” said Fisher.
Haley also pointed out that the Communist countries of Cuba and Venezuela have enjoyed seats on the council despite the deplorable way their citizens are treated and proposed “competitive voting to keep the worst human rights abusers from obtaining seats.”
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