(June 20, 2018 / EJP) Think about Trump however you want, but the European Union should follow the U.S. decision and leave “that farce of a U.N. body called Human Rights Council,” said Czech Member of the European Parliament Tomas Zdechovsky, one day after the the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States is pulling out of the UNHRC, citing its “chronic bias” against Israel as one of the primary factors for the withdrawal.
Zdechovsky, who is a member of the European People’s Party, the largest political group in the European Parliament, said “we need to learn to differentiate in the E.U.”
“While President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord is terrible news for our global climate and a grave mistake in my opinion, the decision to leave the UNHRC is laudable and the E.U. should do the same,” he said.
According to the watchdog group U.N. Watch, as of the end of last month the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council had adopted 80 condemnatory resolutions against Israel out of 169 overall against countries deemed human rights abusers—47 percent of the total. In the Council, Israel is subject to a separate human rights item, known as Agenda Item 7, titled “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”
The UNHRC also has convened 28 special sessions devoted to human rights and other abuses, with eight (29 percent) focused on Israel. Next was Syria, the focus of five special sessions. Then came Burma, with two.
“The fact that Israel is the focus of nearly half of the Human Rights Council’s condemnatory resolutions is absurd,” said Zdechovsky.
“That the council spends exponentially more time on Israel than on North Korea or Syria only underscores how its agenda has fallen victim to politicization and bias,” he added.
By contrast, Human Rights Council is notably unable to condemn human rights violations in powerful or influential countries like China, Cuba, Russia, and Zimbabwe despite, respectively, terrible records of religious persecution, punishment of political dissent, hostility to freedom of the press, unequal rights for women and use of force against civil society and government opponents, the MEP stressed.
“Why are we Europeans playing the role of mutes in this absurd and ugly theatre, instead of taking a stance and boycotting a body on which we anyway have no influence? Why continue to play along with this farce and thereby unwillingly and continuously support the cynical agenda of dictators, who are using the human-rights argument as a currency in the struggle for their goals and interests?” asked Zdechovsky.
“Taking a stance against Trump and all his decisions has already become an automatism in the European political culture,” he said. “That is too easy. Let us think for ourselves again and reflect each decision on its individual merit.”
In explaining the U.S. administration’s decision to withdraw from UNHRC, Haley and Pompeo said that “for too long, the human-rights council has been a protector of human-rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.”