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U.S. Rejoins U.N. Human Rights Council

The Obama administration noted a recent reduction in U.N. Human Rights Council actions targeting Israel in defending its decision to rejoin the body.

Paula Schriefer, the deputy assistant secretary for international organizational affairs, outlined on Wednesday what she said were U.S. successes on the council, including the the authorization of special rapporteurs for Syria, Belarus and Iran and commissions of inquiry on a number of other human rights abusers.

Schriefer, speaking to the Brookings Institution, acknowledged continuing problems with the council’s tendency to single out Israel.

“While the biased, Israel-specific agenda unfortunately still exists, we are pleased that there were no resolutions tabled under this agenda item during this session,” she said, referring to the most recent council session in June.

She noted that that the council named members to a special fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements, adding that it arose out of an earlier session’s resolution and was not a new action.

“The United States has made clear its belief that this politicized fact finding mission on Israeli settlements does not advance the cause of peace and will not add useful information to the debate over settlements,” she said.

The Obama administration reversed the Bush administration’s policy of boycotting the body because of its institutional bias against Israel, saying the United States could accomplish more by working within the body to target genuine rights abusers and tamp down anti-Israel actions.

Republican lawmakers have called on the Obama administration to pull out of the body.

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