UN chief regrets as US exits 'biased' Human Rights Council

Posted June 22, 2018

"Israel thanks President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Haley for their courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council", he said.

Pompeo said that while the USA supports in principle multilateral bodies working to protect human rights, "when organisations undermine our national interests and our allies, we will not be complicit".

Haley's nine-minute statement accused the council of sticking up for countries that abuse their citizens without repercussions and a bias against us ally Israel, calling the Geneva-based body a "cesspool of political bias".

"We have no doubt there was once a noble vision for this council, [but] today it is a poor defender of human rights", Pompeo said, adding that the council "shields" and "enables" some of the world's most corrupt and abusive countries.

The US diplomat described the UN HRC as "a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights".

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"The council has failed in its stated objectives", Pompeo said.

And the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank close to the Trump administration, defended the move, calling the council "notably incurious about the human rights situations in some of the world's most oppressive countries". She pointed to the election of the Democratic Republic of Congo to council membership in the past year, despite the USA reform campaign, as proof that the body could not be fixed.

Some, like DNC chairman Tom Perez, found it ironic that the US should make a move as thousands of children sit in cages at the USA border, separated from their parents, who are fleeing persecution.

The Trump administration has threatened to withdraw from the human rights body as recently as March of this year, citing bias against Israel. And the commissioner noted that the US remains the sole United Nations member not to ratify the Convention of the Rights of the Child, a landmark agreement passed almost three decades ago.

UN officials said the United States would be the first member to withdraw from the council.

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Ms Haley attempted to reassure critics by saying the withdrawal "is not a retreat from our human rights commitments". "The only thing worse than a council that does nearly nothing to protect human rights is a council that covers for human-rights abuses-and is therefore an obstacle to progress and an impediment to change". "Given the state of human rights in today's world, the USA should be stepping up, not stepping back", United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, said after the announcement.

The U.N.'s Human Rights Council resumed work Wednesday after a USA pullout that one Western diplomat called a "Big Bang" for the Geneva body, as Russian Federation blasted the move by the Trump administration and key allies expressed disappointment. Washington also relocated its embassy to Jerusalem after recognizing it as the capital of Israel, reversing decades of USA policy.

It only joined in 2009 under President Barack Obama, and won re-election to the council in 2012.

The body has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories that Washington wanted removed.

The White House has also been entirely unwilling to criticize Israel's settlements on Palestinian land, which the United Nations has deemed illegal.

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