Monday, 16 July, 2018

United Kingdom vows to vote against Palestine at UN Human Rights Council

U.N. to renew blacklist of companies working in West Bank east Jerusalem Boris Johnson accuses UN Human Rights Council of anti-Israel bias
Lisa Bryan | 20 June, 2018, 01:24

"It is essential that this council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility", she said.

On the opening day of the council's current session, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson criticised the body's perennial agenda item dedicated to Israel and the Palestinian territories, calling it "damaging to the cause of peace". "If it fails to change, then we must pursue the advancement of human rights outside of the Council", Haley said at a speech in Geneva past year.

President Donald Trump has lied about the origins of the policy, repeatedly claiming that the family separations are the Democrats' fault - even as he defends the draconian approach as necessary for national security.

According to a report from Bloomberg, "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley plan to announce the withdrawal at the State Department in Washington at 5 p.m." today. With some believing it could happen as early as this week.

A full pullout by the USA would leave the council without one of its traditional defenders of human rights.

Among the bones of contention between the U.S. and the UNHRC is the Agenda Item 7 mandate which requires a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at each session.

The U.S. withdrawal from the council isn't exactly a surprise.

A key question will be where a United States pullout would leave Israel if its biggest and most powerful defender abandons its voting rights or drops out of the council altogether. If the reports are accurate, it would mark the first time one of the member nations, of which there are now 47, volunteered to disassociate.


"I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments".

Washington, some European countries and Australia have sided with Israel in condemning Item 7 as prejudiced, noting that countries with arguably worse rights records in recent years, like Syria are spared such intense scrutiny.

Added Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch: "All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel".

The United States could choose to stay on as a non-voting member, but that does not appear to be the direction the administration wishes to take.

Under Obama, the U.S. was elected to the body for a maximum two consecutive terms. The Obama administration sought a seat only in 2009 in an effort to showcase how human rights were an important aspect of US foreign policy.

When it began, President George W. Bush's administration boycotted it because its membership included countries with poor human rights records. In that situation, the United States would be able to speak out on rights abuses, but not to vote. No other country has such a mandate leveled against it.

Mr Pompeo said the council has failed to protect the most vulnerable.

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