The United States announced its withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday, accusing it of being anti-Israel.
Nikki Haley, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations announced the withdrawal, saying it did so after no other countries “had the courage to join our fight” to reform the “hypocritical and self-serving” body.
“In doing so, I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments,” Haley said.
Rather, she said, it was an affirmation of U.S. respect for human rights, a commitment that “does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”
Haley, along with Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said the Geneva-based organisation was “not worthy of its name”.
“For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias,” Haley said at the State Department in Washington.
The 47-member council, created in 2006 and based in Geneva, began its latest session on Monday with a broadside against President Donald Trump’s immigration policy by the UN’s high commissioner for human rights. He called the policy of separating children from parents crossing the southern border illegally “unconscionable.”
The Trump administration is under intense criticism from business groups, human rights organisations and lawmakers from both parties over the recently imposed policy.
Bloomberg reported that while that timing was jarring, the U.S. withdrawal had been in the works for some time.
National Security Adviser John Bolton had also opposed the body’s creation when he was U.S. ambassador to the UN in 2006.
Current Ambassador Haley warned a year ago that the U.S. would pull out if the council didn’t address what she saw as its bias toward Israel and the fact that many of its current members — they include China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — have poor human rights records themselves.
Condemning the planned withdrawal from the UN group, Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the decision “sends a clear message that the Trump administration does not intend to lead the world when it comes to human rights.”
The council also has been a forum for criticism of Trump’s economic policies. In a report on the U.S. due to be submitted to the Human Rights Council this week, Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on poverty, said the president’s tax overhaul “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”
The withdrawal would be the latest US rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. (NAN)