Israel welcomes end of UN Human Rights Council commissioner’s term

“We welcome the news that the current commissioner of the Human Rights Council’s tenure is at an end,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon stated. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News.

Michelle Bachelet, who just ended her second term as president of Chile, has been nominated by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to be the next high commissioner of the organization’s Human Rights Council (HRC), the UN announced Wednesday.

The outgoing chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, was known for his antipathy towards both Israel and the United States, and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon welcomed the fact that he decided not to seek another term in office.

“We welcome the news that the current commissioner of the Human Rights Council’s tenure is at an end,” Danon said. “The outgoing commissioner, Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein of Jordan, never missed a chance to invent falsehoods and lies when it comes to Israel. From many of his statements, you would be forgiven for thinking he considered Hamas a welfare, not a terrorist, organization. During his tenure, the HRC became a theater of the absurd, with hypocrisy and double standards rampant among its proceedings and reports.”

The US pulled out of the Human Rights Council in June, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decrying its participants and its prejudice against Israel.

“Its membership includes authoritarian governments with unambiguous and abhorrent human rights records, such as China, Cuba and Venezuela,” he explained on National Public Radio, “and the Council’s continued and well-documented bias against Israel is unconscionable.”

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who called the HRC a “cesspool of political bias” at the time, put out a statement upon the new nomination, saying that the selection of a new High Commissioner is “all the more important” due to “the Council’s consistent failure to address extreme human rights abuses in the Western Hemisphere, in Venezuela and Cuba in particular.”

She asked that Bachelet “avoid the failures of the past,” among them the failure of the UN “to adequately address major human rights crises in Iran, North Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere, or stop its chronic, disproportionate obsession with Israel.”

Israel is the only country that has a dedicated agenda item at Council meetings, where it is regularly castigated for supposed human rights abuses.

Bachelet served as president of Chile twice, from 2006-10 and from 2014-18. Between those terms, she was executive director of the UN body for gender equality and the empowerment of women. She and her family suffered from human rights abuses themselves, with her father being tortured and killed by the security forces of the country’s dictator, Augusto Pinochet, and she and her mother fleeing abroad for several years.

UN Watch expresses ‘serious concerns’

However, Fox News reported that UN Watch, a Swiss-based independent monitoring group that regularly defends Israel in front of the HRC, expressed “serious concerns” about what it called her “spotty” record on supporting human rights in various countries.

“There’s no question that the former Chilean president is a highly educated and intelligent politician, who also brings important negotiating skills,” said Executive Director Hillel Neuer in a statement. “But she has a controversial record when it comes to her support for the human rights-abusing governments who rule Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, and we need to know how she plans to address these urgent situations before her nomination is voted upon.”

The General Assembly needs to approve Ms. Bachelet for her new position.