UN rights body told to end focus on Israel as US mulls exit

AP News
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Posted: Mar 01, 2017 5:51 AM

BERLIN (AP) — The United States on Wednesday called on the U.N. Human Rights Council to drop its "obsession with Israel" amid reports that the Trump administration is considering quitting the body.

In a speech before the Geneva-based council, U.S. envoy Erin Barclay said the United States' commitment to human rights "is stronger than ever."

"Regrettably, too many of the actions of this council do not support these universal principles. Indeed, they contradict them," said Barclay, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs.

She cited ongoing abuses in Syria and North Korea, and noted in particular the top U.N. human rights body's long-standing focus on Israel.

"The obsession with Israel...is the largest threat to this council's credibility," said Barclay, a career diplomat.

"When it comes to human rights no country should be free from scrutiny, but neither should any democratic country be regularly subjected to unfair, unbalanced and unfounded bias," she added.

The council's annual rebuke of Israel has been a particular source of irritation for both Republican and Democratic U.S. administrations.

The U.S. declined to seek a seat on the 47-member council when it was formed in 2006, citing skepticism about the membership of some authoritarian states. It joined the council in 2009, after Obama's election, and has played a key role rallying like-minded nations in condemning human rights abuses around the globe.

Rohan said the United States is dedicated to protecting and promoting universal human rights, including freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

"As we consider our future engagements, my government will be considering the council's actions with an eye toward reform to more fully achieve the council's mission to protect and promote human rights," Barclay said.