US quits UNHRC

Nikki Haley speaking to reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York, March 27, 2017. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

THE Australian government has said it is “disappointed” at the decision of the United States to resign from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), over its “chronic”, “unconscionable” and “well-documented” bias against Israel.

Announcing the move on Tuesday night, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, “We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights.”

She added, “Earlier this year, as it has in previous years, the UNHRC passed five resolutions against Israel, more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran and Syria combined.

“This disproportionate focus and unending hostility towards Israel is clear proof the council is motivated by political bias and not human rights.”

Responding to the announcement, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia “shared many of the concerns held by the US about the UNHRC, particularly its anti-Israel bias”.

However, she added, “We are committed to progress effective and meaningful reform to enable the council to more effectively carry out its role”

On Monday, meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson slammed item 7 on the council’s agenda, which is focused on Israel as “disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace”. He said that unless the council changes its stance, the UK will vote against all resolutions introduced under item 7 next year.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said the organisation welcomes the US decision and the UK government’s announcement.

“The whole odious apparatus of the council should be abolished, along with the UN Special Committees on Palestinian issues, and Palestinian units of the UN, the predominant purpose of which is to spread anti-Israel propaganda and whose activities degrade the ability of the United Nations to pursue the noble human rights objectives of its founders,” Wertheim said.

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