Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, excoriated the international organization’s Human Rights Council over its anti-Israel bias in a toughly-worded speech before the council’s 35th session at UN Headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday afternoon.
Speculation that the US would leave the council was rife in the run-up to Haley’s speech. Since assuming the ambassador’s post, Haley has frequently hinted at a potential US resignation from the council because of its disproportionate focus on alleged Israeli human rights violations, as well as the presence of serial human rights abusers among its members.
Haley did not say explicitly on Tuesday whether a US departure was imminent, but she ended her speech by warning that the “status quo is not acceptable.”
“I call on all like-minded countries to make the Human Rights Council reach its intended purpose — we will never give up on the cause of universal human rights,” she declared.
Earlier in her speech, Haley tore into the council over its so-called “Agenda Item 7” — a dedicated slot for the condemnation of Israel.
“Item 7 is a scandalous provision that must be removed,” Haley said. “It is a central flaw that turns the Human Rights Council from a universal force for good to one overwhelmed by political agendas.”
Haley observed that since the council succeeded the old UN Commission on Human Rights in 2006 — in what was billed at the time as a reform exercise that would lessen the body’s fixation with Israel — there had been “70 resolutions targeting Israel, and only seven on Iran.”
The council, Haley said, was engaged in a “pathological campaign against a country with a good human rights record.” She described as “hateful” a database maintained by the council “to deter businesses from doing business” in Israel. This, Haley asserted, amounted to an “official stamp of approval to the antisemitic BDS movement.”
“It must be rejected,” she affirmed.
Haley argued that any genuine claims that could be brought against Israel did not require a separate council agenda item. She suggested an agenda item concentrating on North Korea, Iran and Syria, whom she described as “the world’s leading violators of human rights.”
“We will not sit quietly while this body continues to damage the cause of human rights,” Haley told the council.
Hillel Neuer – executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights organization that monitors UN bias — lauded Haley’s speech.
“Ambassador Haley spoke truth to power,” Neuer, who was present at the address, told The Algemeiner. “She called out the council for its ridiculous membership — half of whom are non-democratic countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela — as well as for its obsession with Israel.”
Neuer asserted: “The ball is now in council’s court.” He argued that it was difficult to conceive of meaningful change when it was initially designed to end overcome the flaws of its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights.
“We are dealing with a supposedly reformed body in the Human Rights Council, but the same diagnosis applies — ignoring the worst abuses, electing the worst dictators, targeting Israel at every opportunity,” Neuer said.
Nonetheless, Neuer counseled against a US withdrawal from the council. “I recognize the dilemma, but I think it’s more useful if the US stays inside,” Neuer said. “The council will still remain a body with global influence worldwide — I would like to see someone like Nikki Haley in Geneva who would be there to call out the council on its abuses.”
Neuer suggested that the US could appoint an eminent person to represent its position on the council, describing former Senator Joe Lieberman and prominent lawyer Alan Dershowitz as examples of suitable envoys. “They have excellent credentials on human rights and are outspoken on the council’s abuses,” Neuer said.
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner Ben Cohen