At the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the United States refused to participate in the debate session devoted to “human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”
The discussion took place in accordance with Agenda Item 7, which makes Israel -- and only Israel -- a permanent target of examination and discussion at each of the three yearly meetings of the Human Rights Council. Traditionally, countries with deplorable human rights records have blasted Israel during these sessions.
In a written statement, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized the fact that Israel is the only country permanently on the Human Rights Council’s agenda.
“It is not Syria, where the regime has systematically slaughtered and tortured its own people. It is not Iran, where public hangings are a regular occurrence. It is not North Korea, where the regime uses forced labor camps to crush its people into submission. It is Israel.”
Israel is a strong and long standing democracy in the Middle East.
Ambassador Haley noted that the “so-called ‘Agenda Item 7’ discredits the standing of the only UN body designed to address the state of global human rights by allowing actions to distract from their own abuses back home by churning out anti-Israel propaganda.”
In a separate statement, Acting State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner said that the “continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threat to the credibility of the [Human Rights] Council.”
He called the U.S. decision not to attend the Council’s Item 7 General Debate session, “an expression of our deeply-held conviction that this bias must be addressed in order for the Council to realize its legitimate purpose.”
Mr. Toner emphasized that it “does not serve the interests of the Council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter,” and that the U.S. “will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same.”
“The U.S.,” said Spokesperson Toner, “is dedicated to the pursuit of respect for international human rights by all countries in the world, and we call on all member states and international partners who are committed to human rights to work with us to pursue much needed reforms in the UN Human Rights Council.”