Sunday, 22 July, 2018

U.S. leaves ‘hypocritical’ UN Human Rights Council, citing China and Israel

U.S. will leave UN Human Rights Council, ambassador Haley says US announces it will leave UN human rights council
Charlie Simmons | 20 June, 2018, 01:21

The US representative blasted the council as "not worthy of its name", describing it as "a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias".

She had been threatening the pull-out since past year unless the council made changes advocated by the US. "If it fails to change, then we must pursue the advancement of human rights outside of the Council", Haley said at a speech in Geneva a year ago.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a National Space Council meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 18, 2018.

Officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the US's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, would deliver the verdict on membership in the UN Human Rights Council in a joint appearance at the State Department on Tuesday. With some believing it could happen as early as this week.

Critics say this sends a message that the administration turns a blind eye to human rights abuses in some parts of the world.

"We will continue to lead on human rights outside the misnamed human rights council".

The U.S. withdrawal from the council isn't exactly a surprise. The U.S., as at other United Nations organizations, is Israel's biggest defender. Members are elected by the U.N. General Assembly for three-year terms and can not serve more than two terms in a row.

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The Foreign Secretary said the council's work on the Israel-Palestinian conflict could have value, under the right conditions.

If the United States leaves the council today it will not be present for the July 2 discussion the council plans to conduct in regards to Israel and Palestine.

When it began, President George W. Bush's administration boycotted it because its membership included countries with poor human rights records.

"The Human Rights Council has always been the foe of those who truly care about human rights around the world", Danon said immediately after Haley spoke. After a year off, it was re-elected in 2016.

Each council session includes an agenda item on so-called country specific situations, known as Agenda Item 4, where debates on the crises in Syria, Burundi and others typically take place. In that situation, the USA would be able to speak out on rights abuses, but not to vote.

Added Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch: "All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel".

The Associated Press cited Trump administration officials who said the administration concluded "its efforts to promote reform on the council had failed and that withdrawal was the only step it could take to demonstrate its seriousness". But President Barack Obama decided it was a better idea to try to influence the council from the inside than from the sidelines, including by defending Israel against critical resolutions.

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