UN Human Rights Chief at Refugee Summit in NYC Lashes ‘Race-Baiting Bigots’

By Patrick Goodenough | September 20, 2016 | 4:10 AM EDT

U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. (UN Photo, File)

(CNSNews.com) – The United Nations' human rights chief on Monday doubled down on his criticism of political leaders who are leery of admitting refugees due to security concerns, labeling them “racists and xenophobes” and saying they would face the judgment of humanity.

Addressing a U.N. summit on refugees and migrants in New York – one day before President Obama hosts another one – U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein took direct aim at what have become regular targets of his over recent months.

“The bigots and deceivers, in opposing greater responsibility-sharing [relating to admitting refugees from conflicts like the one in Syria], promote rupture,” Zeid said.

“Some of them may well be in this hall this morning. If you are here, we say to you: We will continue to name you publicly. You may soon walk away from this hall. But not from the broader judgement of ‘we the people’ – all the world's people. Not from us.”

Zeid did not name those he was referring to, but has done so in previous speeches. They include Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and a handful of right-wing European politicians – including some in power, such as the president of the Czech Republic and the prime ministers of Hungary and Slovakia.

Zeid said the U.N. member states present on Monday could change the suffering faced by refugees from conflicts, by promoting “respect, safety and dignity for all.”

“But not when the defenders of what is good and right are being outflanked in too many countries by race-baiting bigots, who seek to gain – or retain – power by wielding prejudice and deceit, at the expense of those most vulnerable,” he said.

Monday’s U.N. summit adopted a consensus declaration expressing countries’ political will to protect the rights of refugees and migrants and share the responsibility for doing so, but stopped short of making any firm commitments.

Instead, it agreed to work towards adopting a global compact on how to share the refugee burden, in 2018.

Tuesday’s summit, to be co-hosted by Obama and U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, aims higher. The administration wants participants to make new pledges to admit more refugees, to do more to help those who have already been resettled, or to provide more assistance to those countries near conflict-zones that are hosting large numbers of refugees.

The administration recently signaled it will lift the U.S. refugee admission target for the new fiscal year to 110,000, an almost 30 percent increase from the FY 2016 target of 85,000.

The proposal includes a “significantly higher number” from Syria than has been the case in FY 2016 (currently standing at almost 12,000.)

Secretary of State John Kerry told Monday’s event that the U.S. was already the world’s biggest donor of humanitarian assistance and refugee relief. He noted it has resettled more refugees through the U.N. refugee agency’s resettlement program than all other nations combined.

“But we are far from satisfied about that too,” he added. “On the contrary, we are determined to work with all of you to create more opportunities for refugees.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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