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Reform Needed at Human Rights Council


U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley attends the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland June 6, 2017.

The United States does not seek to leave the Council; but, Ambassador Haley said, critically necessary reforms must be enacted to reestablish its legitimacy.

In an address to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States is looking carefully at the Council and U.S. participation in it.

Ambassador Haley made clear that the U.S. considers the protection and promotion of human rights crucially important. “Respect for human rights,” she said, “is deeply intertwined with peace and security, and…human rights violations…often serve as triggers for instability and conflict.”

Strong resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Haley stressed, “can give hope to people who are fighting for justice, democracy, and human rights, and they can pave the way for accountability.”

In a speech later in the day to the Graduate Institute of Geneva, Ambassador Haley pointed out that when the Council “fails to act properly – or fails to act at all-- it undermines its own credibility and the cause of human rights.”

The United States does not seek to leave the Council; but, Ambassador Haley said, critically necessary reforms must be enacted to reestablish its legitimacy.

The first is the UN must take steps to keep the worst rights abusers from sitting on the Council. To do this, election procedures must be changed. “Now, regional blocs nominate slates of pre-determined candidates that never face any competition for votes,” Ambassador Haley observed. ”We must change the elections so countries are forced to make the case for membership based on their records, not on their promises.”

Secondly, the Council’s biased Agenda Item Seven, singling out Israel for automatic criticism, must be removed. “This relentless pathological campaign against a country that actually has a strong human rights record makes a mockery not of Israel, but of the Council itself,” said Ambassador Haley. “These changes are the minimum necessary to resuscitate the Council as a respected advocate of universal human rights.”

Ambassador Haley urged “all like-minded countries to join in making the Human Rights Council reach its intended purpose.” She emphasized that the United States “will never give up the cause of universal human rights” in the Council or anywhere.

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