Washington: The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday accusing it of a “chronic bias against Israel,” a move that activists warned would make advancing human rights globally even more difficult.
Standing with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slammed Russia, China, Cuba and Egypt for thwarting US efforts to reform the council. She also criticised countries which shared US values and encouraged Washington to remain but “were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo.”
The United States is half-way through a three-year term on the main UN rights body and the Trump administration had long threatened to quit if the 47-member Geneva-based body was not overhauled.
“Look at the council membership, and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights,” said Haley, citing Venezuela, China, Cuba and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Haley also said the “disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights.”
Washington’s withdrawal is the latest US rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. It also comes as the United States faces intense criticism for detaining children separated from their immigrant parents at the US-Mexico border. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein on Monday called on Washington to halt its “unconscionable” policy.
Rights groups have criticized the Trump administration for not making human rights a priority in its foreign policy. Critics say this sends a message that the administration turns a blind eye to human rights abuses in some parts of the world.