Published on
by
Reuters

U.S. Distances Itself From U.N. Rights Body

by

WASHINGTON - In an attempt to further distance itself from the U.N. Human Rights Council, the United States said on Friday it would only engage the body when there was an issue of "deep national interest."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the decision, taken recently by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, reflected mistrust of the 47-member state forum, at which the United States currently has observer status.

"Our skepticism regarding the function of the U.N. Council on Human Rights in terms of fulfilling its mandate and its mission is well known. It has a rather pathetic record," McCormack told reporters.

"We will engage the Human Rights Council really only when we believe that there are matters of deep national interest before the council ... We are going to take a more reserved approach," he added.

Diplomatic sources said the United States had quietly informed Western allies on Friday of its intention to walk away from the council.

"They said they were going to disengage totally," said one representative of a rights watchdog group.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

The media landscape is changing fast

Our news team is changing too as we work hard to bring you the news that matters most.

Change is coming. And we've got it covered.

Please donate to our 2019 Mid-Year Campaign today.

The U.S. delegation has observer status, with the right to speak at the forum when it meets in Geneva. Washington has never stood for election since the council was set up two years ago to replace the widely discredited U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

In a council debate on Friday on the situation in Myanmar, the United States failed to take the floor on a topic on which until now it has always been vocal, a sign that it had little further interest in the body.

Asked about the Myanmar debate, McCormack said Washington would decide on an "ad hoc" basis when to get involved.

The council is seen by critics as having fallen under the control of a bloc of Islamic and African countries, which have a majority when backed by their frequent allies Russia, China and Cuba.

"Instead of focusing on some of the real and deep human rights issues around the world, it has really turned into a forum that seems to be almost solely focused on bashing Israel," said McCormack of the council.

© 2008 Reuters

We want a more open and sharing world.

That's why our content is free. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported.

All of our original content is published under Creative Commons—allowing (and encouraging) our articles to be republished freely anywhere. In addition to the traffic and reach our content generates on our site, the multiplying impact of our work is huge and growing as our articles flourish across the Internet and are republished by other large and small online and print outlets around the world.

Several times a year we run brief campaigns to ask our readers to pitch in—and thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Our 2019 Mid-Year Campaign is underway. Can you help? We can't do it without you.

Please select a donation method:



Share This Article

More in: