US quits UNHRC

Published : 9:13 am  June 21, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 

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  • Says it’s ‘a cesspool of political bias’   
  • Critical of countries that express concern but remain its members   

 

The US yesterday announced that it quit the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), describing it as a ‘cesspool of political bias’ that targets Israel in particular, while ignoring atrocities in other countries, the Guardian reported.   

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said she had travelled to the council’s headquarters in Geneva a year ago to call for reforms, but to no avail.   


“Regrettably it is now clear that our call for reforms was not heeded. Human rights abusers continue to serve on it and be elected to the council,” Haley told reporters at the US State Department. 

 
She said the world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny and the council continues politicising and scapegoating countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks.   
“For too long the human rights council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” she said.   


The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, expressed regret about the US withdrawal. The organisation’s top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said, given the state of human rights in today’s world, the US should be stepping up and not stepping back.   

 

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Haley argued the US had spent a year in pursuit of reforms while the council’s flaws deepened. She pointed to the election of the Democratic Republic of Congo to council membership in the past year, despite the US reform campaign, as proof that the body could not be fixed.   

 

  • The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny and the council continues politicising and scapegoating countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks


She also noted the council had failed to hold a single session on Venezuela, which is a council member, or Iran, despite its ruthless crushing of opposition demonstrations.   


“When a so-called human rights council cannot bring itself to address the massive abuses in Venezuela and Iran, and it welcomes the Democratic Republic of Congo as a new member, the council ceases to be worthy of its name,” the ambassador said.   


Haley also pointed to the continued existence of “agenda item 7”, a permanent fixture on the schedule, exclusively devoted to the discussion of rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.   


Haley criticised countries that expressed concern about the council but remained members, suggesting those countries lacked courage.   

 

Almost every country we met with agrees with us, in principle and behind closed doors, that the human rights council needs major dramatic, systemic changes


“Almost every country we met with agrees with us, in principle and behind closed doors, that the human rights council needs major dramatic, systemic changes. Yet no other country has had the courage to join our fight,” she said.  The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Haley, said: “Too many commitments have gone unfulfilled. President Trump wants to move the ball forward. From day one he has called out institutions or countries who say one thing and do another, and that’s precisely the problem at the human rights council.”   


Meanwhile, UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said the US decision to leave was “regrettable”.   


Johnson, who had called on Monday for agenda item 7 to be reformed, said in a statement: “The United States’ decision to withdraw from the human rights council is regrettable.”   


“We’ve made no secret of the fact that the UK wants to see reform of the human rights council, but we are committed to working to strengthen the council from within,” the foreign secretary added.    

 

 

  • The council had failed to hold a single session on Venezuela, which is a council member, or Iran, despite its ruthless crushing of opposition demonstrations

 


Still premature to comment 

NEW-LATE-CITY-DM-1-6By Sandun A. Jayasekera

Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister, Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday it was still premature to comment on the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), but it could have a positive outcome.   

 

 He told the weekly Cabinet news briefing that the US withdrawal from the UNHRC took place a few days ago and Sri Lanka must wait and see what the fallout would be.   


He told Daily Mirror the situation would be different, as it was the US that took the initiative to bring a resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC.   


“We can hope for a better international standing for Sri Lanka. But don’t forget that the first resolution on alleged violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) by Sri Lanka was supported by the US. The Mahinda Rajapaksa government pledged to probe the alleged violation of the IHL in the resolution at the UNHRC in Geneva. Two other resolutions against Sri Lanka were passed after the MR government failed to fulfil the pledges given to the international community. Therefore, Sri Lanka is committed to abide by three UNHRC resolutions as we have signed all UN conventions on safeguarding human rights.   

 


US assures it will help SL fulfil UN commitments

In the wake of the US pull-out from the UNHRC, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap met with senior Sri Lankan officials yesterday and assured them that the US would continue to support Sri Lanka as it works to fulfil commitments made with regard to UN resolutions.   

 

We would continue to support the Sri Lankan Government 

 

In a statement last evening, the US Embassy said Ambassador Keshap had assured Sri Lankan officials that they will remain fully engaged with Sri Lanka.   


“We would continue to support the Sri Lankan Government to meet its continuing and standing commitments to the international community, to advance the cause of reconciliation and lasting peace for all Sri Lankans,” it said.   
It said Sri Lanka and the US co-sponsored two UN Human Rights Commission Resolutions, 30/1 in 2015 and 34/1 in 2017, and the US continues to extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka to fulfil these important commitments and obligations as articulated and reaffirmed in these resolutions.  It also said Sri Lanka’s continued progress towards the fulfilment of these international commitments will facilitate further growth in bilateral relations between the two nations and enhance Sri Lanka’s ability to engage with friends and partners around the world.   


“We will follow Sri Lanka’s progress closely and look ahead to engaging with Sri Lanka between now and March 2019 in the spirit of friendship that has marked our recent relations,” the US Embassy said.   

 


US quitting UNHRC Shows its level of disenchantmentBy Kelum Bandara 

 

NEW-LATE-CITY-DM-1-6Commenting on the United States pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), former external affairs minister G.L. Peiris said it showed the degree of disenchantment in the manner in which the UNHRC was functioning.   

He said this had been consistently the position taken by the political camp represented by him between 2011 and 2014 under the former government, and the decisions of the UNHRC were then based on overtly political factors.   


Prof. Peiris campaigned against the resolutions being moved on Sri Lanka at that time.  “It had nothing to do with moral issues and there was ample evidence of double standards at that time, resulting in the rapid erosion of confidence in UNHRC. Here is an indication of all that we have been saying with regard to the lack of objectivity in the assessment of situations. There was bias and preconceived position, which is what comes out clearly from the US statement today,” he said .  Referring to the US Ambassador to UNHRC in Geneva, Nikki Haley calling the UNHRC a ‘cesspit of political bias,’ Prof. Peiris said the UNHRC was not worthy of its name.   

 

  • Prof. Peiris campaigned against the resolutions moved on SL at that time

  

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