Deputy Assistant Secretary Suzanne Nossel Bureau of International Organization Affairs today said the United States rejects Israel’s exclusion from regional groups in United Nations Human Rights Council.
Ms. Nossel stated that the United States has joined the Human Rights Council and took its seats for the first time in September of 2009. She added that the United States took the seats with the stated goal of trying to make the Council more legitimate and more credible.
“We were very clear-eyed on what the limitations and flaws of the Council were, and to some extent still are, and I will run through what we saw as the principle issues. I would venture that there is a fair amount of agreement as far as what the problems are. The first is a persistent, one-sided, unbalanced, and almost obsessive focus on Israel.” -Ms. Nossel
According to Ms. Nossel, as demonstrated in a pattern of resolutions that run session after session singling out Israel, it is a stand-alone agenda item that is part of the Council’s official agenda dedicated to Israel, whereas every other country under the UN system is dealt with under a common item.
“So this is not new to the Council; the UN Human Rights System going back decades has reflected this outsized focus on Israel, but it has certainly been near the top of our list of concerns going in.” -Ms. Nossel
Ms. Nossel underscored that it is important to understand that flaws were manifested in the council. She pointed out they reflect the viewpoints of the countries represented there, and the representation of the Council reflects the makeup of the world.
According to Ms. Nossel, when United States joined the Council, it focused on four different goals. The first is deepening the Council’s engagement in country situations. The second is taking concrete steps to drive key thematic human rights priorities. The third is defending core principles and values, and the fourth is setting a standard for principled engagement and being an example to other countries.
Ms. Nossel noted that the United States fought for Israel’s inclusion and was able to secure Israel’s membership in one of the important consultative groups in Geneva. She added that the U.S. government also advocated the appointment of Israel’s first UN Special Procedures Mandate Holder, an expert who is now a member of that committee we have established on laws that discriminate against women.
“So we have worked to advance Israel’s inclusion.” -Ms. Nossel
Ms. Nossel explained that the United States has also worked quietly behind the scenes to try to moderate the resolutions that have passed, and we have seen a little bit of progress in that regard. She said there are too many anti-Israel resolutions, and resolutions that are excessively focused on Israel.
“Our perception is that in terms of the focus of the debate in Geneva, where it used to be heavily focused on Israel, session after session, what we now see is a much wider docket of country situations that are debated and discussed and that are the talk of delegations.” -Ms. Nossel
Ms. Nossel elaborated that while the Israel resolutions are still there and they come up and they are introduced and they are passed, they are no longer the obsessive focus of the diplomatic community in the way that they were.