Sri Lanka was an example of a country in which the UN Human Rights Council had catalysed progress for reform and provided assistance to improve accountability for past violations, the US Government said in Geneva yesterday.
Addressing the High Level segment of the UNHRC 34th Session at the Palais des Nations, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay used Sri Lanka and North Korea as examples of the council’s usefulness, in a speech that otherwise blasted the 47-member UN body for unfairly targeting Israel.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Barclay’s speech before the UNHRC yesterday was the first time the US had addressed the council since the Trump Administration took office.
“When the council functions properly, it has the ability to remind states of their commitments and obligations and it can hold countries accountable for the same,” the US Deputy Assistant Secretary noted.
“When the council works as it should, its successes are victories for human rights. For example, HRC action catalysed progress for reform and provided technical assistance to improve accountability for past violations in Sri Lanka,” Barclay said.
The US representative said that the “obsession with Israel through agenda Item 7” was the largest threat to the council’s credibility. “It limits the good we can accomplish by making a mockery of this council. The United States will oppose any effort to delegitimise or isolate Israel – not just in the HRC, but wherever it occurs. 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,” Barclay charged.
The US Deputy Assistant Secretary said the council could improve its credibility and success if it moved away from its “unbalanced and unproductive” positions. “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 added in her speech that was a scathing criticism of the council’s engagement on Israel.
Over the weekend, just ahead of the opening of the 34th Session of the UNHRC, US media reported that the newly minted Trump Administration was considering quitting the council in which it holds membership until 2019. The news reports said the new administration was questioning the council’s usefulness and believed it unfairly targeted Israel. (DB)