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#################### Geoff Seidner
The UN, which is hugely reliant on billions of dollars from Washington to keep running, would be unwise to overlook the significance of the Trump administration’s boycott of the current session of its Human Rights Council. The boycott, as the US’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley has explained, is to protest against the UNHRC’s incessant “Israel bashing”. It follows a letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in which he warned that unless the 47-member body reforms itself the US will no longer be part of it.
It also comes amid indications the Trump administration will slash 50 per cent from the $US5.4 billion it gives the UN each year. That is almost a quarter of the body’s budget. The US is also planning massive cuts to the $US8.25bn it provides to cover UN peacekeeping operations — almost 30 per cent of the peacekeeping budget. Alarmed UN officials and attendant hangers-on, who never take a step back when it comes to criticising Washington, say the cuts will cripple UN humanitarian operations.
Such concern is understandable. But what they need to understand is that the UN’s anti-Israel bias has now reached grotesque levels and that the Trump administration is unlikely to change its mind about funding until the UNHRC — which includes pillars of democracy such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, China and Cuba — comes to its senses and stops hammering away at the only nation in the Middle East that has democracy and the rule of law.
The latest farce occurred when the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia moved to formally declare Israel an “apartheid state” — a country that, like South Africa under white rule, “commits inhumane acts, systematic oppression and is dominated by one racial group over another”. It is to the credit of the US that it immediately reacted to this ploy, forcing new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to intervene. He compelled the UNHRC to abandon its move and the top UN bureaucrat, under-secretary-general Rima Khalaf, angrily quit in protest.
To be frank, we are left wondering why Australia is bothering to campaign for a place on the discredited UNHRC.