The United States has pulled out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, citing the UN’s alleged prejudice against Israel as well as the council’s acceptance of several questionable members over the last decade as being the primary reasons for its decision.
The U.S. envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, made the announcement after calling the council a “cesspool of political bias,” criticizing its chronic reluctance to accept reform while also blaming what she argued were the council’s “hypocritical and self-serving” interests in providing membership to countries with a disreputable human rights record.
“Look at the council membership, and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights,” Haley said, citing countries like China, Cuba, Venezuela and Democratic Republic of Congo as countries with a history of human rights abuses, with the election of Congo as a UNHRC member mooted as the final straw in U.S.’ decision.
Interestingly, however, Haley refrained from mentioning Saudi Arabia, an international U.S. ally which rights group pushed to be suspended in 2016 over killings of civilians in the Yemen war, as reported by Reuters.
Haley also claimed that the UNHRC was especially prejudiced against its longtime ally Israel, with the Middle Eastern nation having received several condemnations from the council over its transgressions in its war against Palestinian militant groups.
U.S.’ decision to withdraw from UNHRC has been condemned by human rights activists both inside and outside the country. While ACLU called the decision an “aggressive, concerted effort to violate basic human rights,” the UK said the United States acted in haste, saying the move was “regrettable.”
It comes days after the United States was reprimanded by the body’s chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for making the “unconscionable” decision to separate incoming immigrant parents and their children at its southern border.
“Given the state of human rights in today’s world, the U.S. should be stepping up, not stepping back,” Al Hussein added after Haley’s announcement.
Trump’s administration has faced intensifying local and international pressure for removing more than 2,300 children from their undocumented parents, but the Justice Department has stood by its “zero tolerance policy” under AG Jeff Sessions, who has sought to deflect the blame of forced separation on the immigrants.
However, Israel President Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed U.S.’ decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, calling it a “courageous” decision against what he said were “lies” perpetuated by the body.
Formed in 2006, UN’s Human Rights Council has earlier been criticized for its selective favoritism, according to BBC, but U.S. decided to become its member in 2009 after initial hesitance under then president George W. Bush.