Pence: UN Human Rights Council 'doesn't deserve its name'
Posted September 20
Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that the United Nation's Human Rights Council "doesn't deserve its name," slamming the body for welcoming "many of the worst human rights violators in the world."
Pence, speaking to the UN Security Council, singled out Cuba and Venezuela by name, saying the United Nations "must reform the Human Rights Council's membership and its operation."
"The truth is, the Human Rights Council doesn't deserve its name," Pence said. "As we look at the membership of the council today, we see nations that betray these timeless principles upon which this institution was founded."
The Trump administration's antipathy for the Human Rights Council stems primarily from its Agenda Item 7, language that outlines the body's focus on Israel's conduct in dealing with the Palestinians.
"The Human Rights Council has become a focus of anti-Semitism, an invective against Israel," Pence said, echoing the State Department, which issued a statement earlier this year stating that the agenda item is "yet another reminder of that body's long-standing bias against Israel."
"Today, the United Nation Humans Rights Council actually attracts and welcomes many of the worst human rights violators in the world. A clear majority of the Human Rights Council members fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards," Pence said.
President Donald Trump also used his platform at the United Nations this week to slam the body's Human Rights Council, casting it as a hapless organization that "doesn't deserve its name" because it embraces countries that openly violate human rights norms.
The coordinated criticism comes months after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a speech before the council that the United States is "looking carefully at this council and our participation in it."
Trump himself slammed the Human Rights Council during his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, charging that some states have "hijacked the very systems" at the United Nations that are supposed to advance the body's goals.
"For example," Trump said, "it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council."
Human rights organizations have pushed back against this United States' criticism of the Human Rights Council by arguing that "Item 7" is far from the only thing tackled by the body.
"There is work to be done to improve the Human Rights Council," Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch wrote earlier this year. "But as U.N. bodies go, it is one of the more effective. And its bite still has sting for many highly abusive governments."