Russia welcomes US pullout from UNHRC, says council can work better now
Russia has welcomed the United States’ pullout from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), saying the body has lost nothing and can operate more freely now.
“I cannot say that the council lost anything,” Russia’s permanent representative at the UN office and other international organizations in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, said Wednesday.
“Moreover, I hope that in the wake of the United States’ walkout there will be less politicization, double standards and confrontation,” he added.
The comments came a day after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Washington’s withdrawal over what they called the body’s entrenched bias against Israel.
Speaking at the US State Department in Washington, Haley called the UNHRC a “cesspool of political bias” and accused it of protecting “human rights abusers.”
Pompeo was also scathing in his remarks, blasting the UNHRC for its “shameless hypocrisy” in allowing “some of the world’s most serious offenders sitting on the council itself.”
Shortly after the UNHRC’s formation in 2006, the administration of then-US President George Bush announced that it would not seek a seat on the council. The boycott continued until 2009, when under President Barack Obama the White House announced willingness to join the council.
Referring to the first US boycott, Gatilov said Wednesday that the UNHRC pushed ahead with no problem back then.
“And I believe it will lose nothing this time,” he argued.
The US administration has long pressured the UNHRC to end its scrutiny of Israel’s widespread human rights abuses against Palestinians.
In May, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Israel has systematically deprived Palestinians of their human rights, with 1.9 million in Gaza “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death.”
Scores of Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli forces in Gaza since March 30, when they began protests for their right to return to their homelands in the occupied territories.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also reacted to the US pullout on Wednesday and said it only confirmed Washington’s long-running double standards.
“Our US counterparts have shown boorish cynicism – they are reluctant to admit that they have human rights issues themselves but at the same time, they continue attempts to reshape the council to make it serve their needs, stressing that there was no place for persistent violators of human rights in the council,” Zakharova pointed out.
Calling it a “mistake,” she said the decision only “dealt a powerful blow” to Washington’s own claims of human rights protection reputation.