US warns UN Human Rights Council: Either reform, or we leave

The US is threatening to quit the UNHRC if it does not change its focus to defending human rights instead of bashing Israel. 

The Trump administration is threatening to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) if it does not undertake “considerable reform,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a group of nine non-profit organizations in a letter this week.

The correspondence, obtained and reported by Foreign Policy Magazine (FP), says that while the US “continues to evaluate the effectiveness” of the UNHRC, it remains skeptical about its membership in a human rights organization that includes states with abysmal human rights records such as China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

“While it may be the only such organization devoted to human rights, the Human Rights Council requires considerable reform in order for us to continue to participate,” Tillerson wrote.

For the time being, he said, the US will remain a member of the 47 nation-body in order to “reiterate our strong principled objection to the Human Rights Council’s biased agenda against Israel.”

“Our aim is to fix the organization,” a Tillerson aide told FP.

Tillerson said US priorities included renewing the mandate of a UN commission of inquiry into atrocities in Syria and underscoring US support for UN special rapporteurs for Iran, North Korea and Burma.

An immediate withdrawal from the Council, however, is not imminent, multiple State Department aides told FP. The Council has a small window of time to changes it ways.

The Trump administration has told the State Department to cut more than 50 percent of US funding to UN programs, according to reports on Monday. The US spends about $10 billion annually on the world body.

There have been previous reports on US intentions to drop the UNHRC.

The Human Rights Council was established in 2006. It replaced the UN Human Rights Commission, which was facing severe criticism because countries with poor rights records became members and blocked its mission.

The Bush administration refused to join the new council, questioning its efficacy. Under President Barack Obama, the US felt it was more useful to influence the Council from the inside. However, former US Secretary of State John Kerry said the UNHRC must cease with its “excessive and biased focus on Israel.”

“No one in this room can deny there is an unbalanced focus on one democratic country,” Kerry stated in March 2016. “It must be said that the HRC’s obsession with Israel risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization.”

In just over a decade, the UNHRC passed 62 resolutions denouncing actions that Israel had taken to defend its security. Meanwhile, the world’s worst human rights abusers in Syria, Iran, and North Korea received far fewer condemnations.

By: World Israel News Staff