State Department says, “the United States will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same.”
The United States on Monday boycotted the United Nations Human Rights Council debate against Israel, otherwise known as Agenda Item 7. By announcing that it will not sit on the debate, the US explicitly expressed its dismay with what it said was the biased manner in which the Jewish state was solely singled out.
“The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the existence of the UN Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item Seven,” the US State Department said in a sharply worded text.
America is one of the UNHRC’s 47 member states, but the Trump administration has warned that it could reconsider its participation in the UNHRC unless it makes a number of changes, including in its treatment of Israel.
It also pledged to vote at the end of the week against the five anti-Israel resolutions which the UNHRC is expected to pass. The UNHRC will also likely approve seven resolutions involving human rights abuses in seven other countries including Syria and Iran.
The UNHRC is mandated to dedicate Agenda Item 7 to a discussion on Israeli human rights abuses at every session. Israel is the only country against which there is such a mandate, as all other human rights abuses including by Syria and Iran are examined under Agenda Item 4.
“The United States will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same,” the US said.
“Today’s actions in the Council are yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel. No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the Council,” the US said.
“The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council,” it added.
“As an expression of our deeply-held conviction that this bias must be addressed in order for the Council to realize its legitimate purpose, the United States decided not to attend the Council’s Item Seven General Debate session,” the US said.
The US State Department noted its respect for human rights and urged other countries to apply pressure on the UNHRSC to make necessary changes to its policy that would benefit human rights in the long run. “All UN member states and international partners who are committed to human rights to work with us to pursue much needed reforms in the UN Human Rights Council,” the US said earlier on Sunday.
Under former president George Bush, the US refused to participate in all council debates, but former US president Barack Obama believed it was important for the US to engage with the council.
The US held a council seat for six of Obama’s eight years. Under Obama the US always voted in support of Israel and in the last few years of its membership it also refrained from participating in Agenda Item 7 debates.
The EU and most Western countries similarly follow suit.