Obama Administration Urged to Ditch ‘Anti-Israel’ U.N. Human Rights Council (CNS) CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE) 03/23/12)
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(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration should walk away from the
U.N. Human Rights Council, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said Thursday after the body
adopted a fresh batch of resolutions critical of Israel.
Wrapping up a month-long session in Geneva, the U.N.’s top human
rights body passed one resolution condemning North Korea, two
condemning Syria – and five condemning Israel. (Another resolution,
relating to Burma, contained mildly critical elements.)
“Instead of running for re-election to the council, the U.S. should
finally leave that rogues’ gallery and seek credible alternative
forums to advance human rights,” Ros-Lehtinen said Thursday, after
the HRC adopted the five Israel-related resolutions.
The council remained “as anti-Israel as ever,” she said.
“Any limited, tactical gains made by U.S. engagement at the council
are outweighed by the harm done through granting legitimacy to the
fundamentally illegitimate body,” Ros-Lehtinen argued. “The fact is
that, with or without the U.S., the UNHRC remains dominated by rogue
regimes who protect human rights abusers and target free democracies
One of the five Israel-related resolutions establishes a new
international fact-finding mission into alleged violations relating
to Israeli settlements in disputed territory – the third such mission
targeting Israel since the HRC was established six years ago.
Israel announced Thursday night that it would not cooperate with the
probe, and slammed the HRC.
“While all over the Middle East human rights are violated in an
unprecedented scale, the HRC ridicules itself by dedicating its time
and resources to establish a superfluous and extravagant body whose
sole purpose is to satisfy the Palestinians’ whims and to harm future
chances to reach an agreement through peaceful means,” the foreign
ministry said in a statement.
The United States cast the only no vote in all five Israel-related
resolutions passed on Thursday afternoon. Those resolutions passed by
margins of 44-1, 46-1, 36-1, 29-1 and 33-1.
All five were introduced by Pakistan. Core sponsors were Arab states,
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states, Cuba
and “Palestine” (Although an observer entity, the U.N. permits the
Palestinian Authority to co-sponsor resolutions). Syria’s envoy was
among those who spoke in favor of the measures.
Israel’s delegate accused the council of “hypocrisy and double
standards,” noting that some members had during the day emphasized
the importance or impartiality and non-politicization – but then
failed to apply those same ideals when it came to resolutions
Thursday’s votes came three days after the U.S. envoy to the HRC
urged it to end its disproportionate focus on Israel.
The tendency to give far greater attention to the Israeli-Palestinian
issue than any other human rights situation around the world was at
the core of the Bush administration’s decision to shun the HRC,
neither joining or funding the council and eventually not even
observing its meetings.
President Obama reversed that policy in 2009, since when it has
highlighted its leadership at the HRC as a centerpiece of its broader
engagement with the U.N.
The administration has pushed for some improvements at the council,
but is ultimately stymied by in-built problems, such as a membership
procedure that enables countries with poor human rights records to
join – and then band together to promote certain issues and block
Three years into its participation, the HRC has only 21 free
democracies among its 47 members, down from a high of 25 in 2006. It
also retains only one country-specific permanent agenda item, dealing
with Israel. This means that every time the HRC holds a session,
Israel is on the agenda, no matter what other crises may be occurring
anywhere else in the world.
The administration frequently and energetically criticizes these
problem areas, but maintains that its membership and leadership is
making a difference, citing for example the 2011 decision to appoint
a “special rapporteur” to investigate abuses in Iran.
The administration announced a full year ago that it will stand for a
second term in elections scheduled for May of this year.
Legislation authored by Ros-Lehtinen and co-sponsored by more than
140 other lawmakers seeks to change the way the U.N. is funded,
shifting from the current “assessed” contribution procedure to
a “voluntary” one, thus enabling the U.S. to direct funds to only
those U.N. agencies and activities that it determines are well-run
and in the U.S. national interest.
The bill also requires the U.S. to withhold from the U.N. a sum
proportionate to the amount that would go towards funding the HRC.
U.S. taxpayers account for 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular budget,
and more than 25 percent of its peacekeeping budget. (copyright 1998-
2012 Cybercast News Service 03/23/12)
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