A United States envoy to the U.N. Human Rights Council called out the panel for what she called “unfair” treatment of Israel, which has been targeted by the council’s resolutions more than any other country.
In a speech during the council’s main general session in Geneva Wednesday, U.S. envoy Erin Barclay accused the HRC of having “an obsession” with Israel and said it was hurting the council’s credibility.
"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,'' she said.
She pointed to human rights abuses currently taking place in countries like Syria, Iran and North Korea, and, given this context, said the HRC’s annual rebuke of Israel serves only in “making a mockery of this Council.”
“The United States will oppose any effort to de-legitimize or isolate Israel, not just in the HRC, but wherever it occurs,” she said.
The HRC’s “Agenda Item 7” mandates that member states debate Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians at every meeting. Israel is the only nation that has a standing, dedicated agenda item, with human rights abuses in all other countries covered under a single, separate agenda item.
Barclay called on the council to move away from the “unbalanced and unproductive” practice and instead focus its efforts on “the most critical human rights situations” around the globe.
Her comments come as recent media reports have said the Trump administration is considering a withdrawal from the HRC after the US term expires in 2019.
The U.S. declined to seek a seat on the 47-member council when it was formed in 2006, citing skepticism about the membership of some authoritarian states. It joined the council in 2009, after Obama's election, and has played a key role rallying like-minded nations in condemning human rights abuses around the globe.