Update: Confirming the earlier leaked expectations, Trump envoy Nikki Haley says that the US withdrawing from UN Human Rights Council, calling it “not worthy of its name” and a “self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” and a “cesspool of political bias.”
“Earlier this year, as it has in previous years, the Human Rights Council passed five resolutions against Israel — more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran and Syria combined,” Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said in a speech on Tuesday.
“This disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights.”
“If the Human Rights Council is going to attack countries that uphold human rights and shield countries that abuse human rights, then America should not provide it with any credibility,” Ms. Haley said.
As we noted below, this is first time a member has voluntarily left the Council. The United States now joins Iran, North Korea and Eritrea as the only countries that refuse to participate in the council’s meetings and deliberations.
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Two years after Russia was kicked out of the UN Human Rights Council, while that paragon of humanitarian virtue Saudi Arabia was reelected, the WaPo reports that the Trump administration is set to withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council as soon as today, making good on a pledge to leave a body that Trump has repeatedly accused of hypocrisy and criticized as biased against Israel.
Per The Washington Post, the decision to leave the 47-nation body, as most observers anticipate, would be more definitive than the lesser option of staying on as a nonvoting observer.
It would represent another retreat by the Trump administration from international groups and agreements whose policies it deems out of sync with American interests on trade, defense, climate change and now, human rights.
And it would leave the council without the United States playing a key role in promoting human rights around the world. This is the first time since the Human Rights Council was formed in 2006 that a sitting member would volunteer to step aside, though Libya was suspended in 2011 after a government crackdown on unarmed protesters.
However, a U.S. departure would deprive Israel of its chief defender at a forum where Israel’s human rights record comes up for discussion at every single meeting, a standing “Item 7” on the agenda.
“It’s true, the Human Rights Council continues to disproportionately focus on Israel,” said Peter Yeo, an official with the United Nations Foundation that connects the organization with private and nongovernmental groups and foundations.
“But with U.S. leadership, the attention Israel brought has dropped significantly. U.S. leadership matters. We’re still the only ones with credibility on human rights on the world stage.”
As Bloomberg adds, SecState Mike Pompeo and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley plan to announce the withdrawal at the State Department in Washington at 5 p.m.. They asked not to be identified discussing a decision that hadn’t yet been made public.
The U.S. withdrawal will not come as a surprise: as BBG adds, National Security Adviser John Bolton opposed the body’s creation when he was U.S. ambassador to the UN in 2006. In a speech to the council last year, Haley called out the body for what she said was its “relentless, pathological campaign” against Israel. She has also called for ways to expel members of the council that have poor human rights records themselves.
“For our part, the United States will not sit quietly while this body, supposedly dedicated to human rights, continues to damage the cause of human rights,” Haley said at the time. “In the end, no speech and no structural reforms will save the members of the Human Rights Council from themselves.”
Here one can argue that the real joke is some of the member’s shocking human rights records:
“The United States is looking very carefully at this council and our participation in it,” she told council members. “Being a member of this council is a privilege, and no country who is a human rights violator should be allowed a seat at the table.”
The council’s current membership includes 14 countries that are ranked as “not free” by Freedom House: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, China, Cuba, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela
On the opening day of the council’s current session, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson criticized the body’s perennial agenda item dedicated to Israel and the Palestinian territories, calling it “damaging to the cause of peace.” Nonetheless, he said the U.K. wasn’t “blind to the value of this council.”
The council is scheduled to discuss Israel and the Palestinian territories on July 2, according to its agenda.
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