A senior United Nations official, frustrated that the just-ended U.S. government shutdown was threatening to delay a U.S. human rights report, took a firm and public stand on Obamacare, invoking freedom from slavery to slam Republicans over the shutdown impasse.
U.N. Human Rights Committee Chairman Nigel Rodley in his opening statement at the committee’s meeting earlier this week declared: "The political party of Abraham Lincoln that, in fire and blood ended slavery and gave freedom to millions of people of African descent, seemed now to have party members who thought that wealth did not just rhyme with health, but should also determine access to it.”
"To achieve its aim it had brought the government of the United States to a standstill and to the brink of defaulting on its national debt," said Rodley, a British international law expert, according to French news agency Agence France-Presse.
Rodley was frustrated that the U.S. did not send a representative to Geneva to participate in the committee’s meeting and that the body had to postpone for five months a review of the U.S.’s human rights record.
"It was clear that the delegation from the United States was not unwilling to come, but was seriously unable to do so, for reasons that had been widely covered in the media," he said.
The head of a nonprofit group that monitors events at the United Nations said Rodley inserting himself into a hotly-debated domestic issue was “unprecedented politicization.”
“In 10 years of monitoring this particular body, I cannot recall a single instance where one of its officials — for that matter, any U.N. official — openly intervened in the domestic political fray of any country to the degree of attacking one of its main political parties," Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based U.N. Watch told TheBlaze.
“For the chair, Nigel Rodley, to mock the Republican Party was, frankly, bizarre, and way outside of monitoring the U.S. national report on its compliance with treaty obligations. I have never heard Mr. Rodley criticize any other party, right or left, of any other country — not the party of Venezuela’s Chavez, Cuba’s Castro or France’s Marine Le Pen,” Neuer said.
Neuer suggested Rodley's comments could backfire.
“Given that the U.S. contributes millions of dollars annually to the U.N. human rights system in Geneva, through its general dues and through additional voluntary funding, and that the administration is lobbying Congress to restore $80 million of U.S. funding to UNESCO, Mr. Rodley’s reckless comments may backfire on the very institutions he cares about,” Neuer said.
An official with the American Civil Liberties Union called the U.S. no-show an "international embarrassment."
ACLU Human Rights Program Director Jamil Dakwar told The Hill, “The government shutdown is not only hurting many Americans — especially vulnerable communities from Native Americans to low-income families who depend on federal government support and services — it’s also causing international embarrassment as the U.S. fails to appear before a major U.N. human rights body.”