Source: U.S. State Department, Daily Briefing, December 20, 2013
QUESTION: On Israel and the UN, Special Rapporteur – the head of the Human Rights Commission —
MS. JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPT. SPOKESPERSON: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — he made these – he kind of reaffirmed his comment talking about Israel as having genocidal intentions. (Click here for Falk video.) Canada has called for him to be removed from his job and, I mean, doesn’t this – now that you’ve rejoined the United Nations Human Rights Council, don’t you think that having a gentleman of this – of saying these type of things, like, kind of flies in the face of what the Human Rights Council is supposed to be —
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me very clear here. We condemn and completely reject Richard Falk’s latest outrageous statements made during an interview with Russia Today. The Administration has repeatedly condemned in the strongest terms his despicable and deeply offensive comments, particularly his anti-Semitic blog postings, his endorsement of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and more recently, his deplorable statements with regard to the terrorist attacks in Boston. His most recent remarks, however, represent a new low. We do not support his mandate or his work, which has been one-sided and biased, nor do we believe he should continue to serve as independent UN rapporteur, and we reiterate our calls for him to step down from this role.
We note that his term as Special Rapporteur ends in March 2014, and he cannot be reappointed to the role after that time.
QUESTION: So basically, he’s just going to kind of skirt by it all March 2014?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve repeatedly called for him to step down. We continue to condemn in strongest terms his steps. Unfortunately, the vast majority of HRC members do not agree on his stepping down.
QUESTION: Well, but what does that say about the kind of relevance of a group like the Human Rights Council? I mean, I know you thought it was important to rejoin, but when the majority of members are siding with country – not just in this instance, but are siding with countries and dictators and leaders who do not espouse the human rights values that you do, what is the relevance of the council?
MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly we have strongly – we strongly oppose his comments and his role, as I think I’ve made evident. However, there still is good work that the Human Rights Council does. We will continue to press for him to step down, but we felt, as you noted, it was still important to be a member of the organization.