United Nations, New York. The United States and Russia fought Monday over a U.S. attempt to have the Security Council debate human rights violations as a major cause of conflict for the first time during this month’s American presidency of the U.N.’s most powerful body.
“If you look at the conflicts we have in the world, they always go back to the human rights issues on the ground within those countries,” Haley said.
The Russian Federation’s deputy U.N. ambassador Petr Iliichev had another view of the proposed debate saying “a general statement that international peace and security are threatened by human rights violations is not true.”
Iliichev also argued that other U.N. bodies including the General Assembly and the Geneva based Human Rights Council already handle human rights issues stating, “Why are we taking everything to the Security Council?,” he asked. “Then those bodies should be dismantled.”
Iliichev did agree Russia will consult with the U.S. on trying to find “a suitable formulation” for a debate “if possible.”
The security council approved April’s agenda without including that debate. But it can still be added if at least nine of the 15 council members vote for it and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced to reporters later that the United States “fully expects” to hold the debate on April 18.
The United Nations Security Council’s mandate is to ensure international peace and security, Haley said, so “it is incumbent” on members to look at how human rights are related to conflict. Haley further stressed that the debate “is not intended to in any way to attack certain countries or use this as a ‘gotcha’ game.”
The aim, she said, is to look at human rights issues that lead to conflict and extremism to try to prevent another Syria or Tunisia.Experts though, are troubled that Haley exudes “selective memory” and forgets US action in overthrowing the Ukrainian government, and invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria.
The U.S. drive for a debate on human rights at the U.N. comes after the Trump administration announced it would not publicly criticize Egypt’s human rights record during President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s Monday visit to the White House. It also has played down the public condemnations of Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies that marked the Obama administration’s tenure.