U.S. to Withdraw from UN Human Rights Council Today


The United States withdrew from a "hypocritical and self-serving" United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday over what it called chronic bias against Israel, a move activists warned would make advancing human rights globally even more hard.

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, will deliver the verdict on the UN Human Rights Council in a joint appearance at the State Department, according to four officials familiar with the matter.

While the General Assembly was first drafting the rules for the Council back in 2005, then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton (currently President Trump's national security adviser) worked tirelessly to do the same. The policy decision by the Trump administration has been condemned in recent weeks, with a fever pitch being reached earlier this week as photos, videos, and audio of the detention centers have been shared with the public.

Formed in 2006, the council has been criticised for allowing countries with questionable human rights records to be members.

Either way, the US pullout was bound to have ripple effects for at least two countries at the council: China and Israel.

But Haley says that if the council does reform, the United States "would be happy to rejoin".

The Human Rights Council is a body of 47 member states that works around the world to protect human rights. She said it's clear those calls for change were not heeded. "In short, the Commission had lost the world's trust".

It was only after Barack Obama came to power that Washington joined the council in 2009.

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"It is essential that this council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility", she said. It was not immediately clear if the US would remain a non-voting observer on the council.

U.S. withdrawal from the council follows efforts by Haley and the USA delegation to implement reforms, including more stringent membership criteria and the ability to remove members with egregious human rights records.

The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from worldwide agreements and forums under the president's "America First" policy.

Meanwhile the campaign group Human Rights Watch criticised President Trump's human rights policy as "one-dimensional".

In March 2011, the UN General Assembly unanimously suspended Libya's membership in the council because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Members are elected by the U.N. General Assembly for three-year terms and can not serve more than two terms in a row.

The US refused to join the body when it was created in 2006 when George W. Bush was in the White House and his ambassador to the United Nations was John Bolton, Trump's current hawkish and UN-skeptic national security advisor.

The council last month voted to probe killings in Gaza and accused Israel of excessive use of force.

"A pullout could be largely symbolic: The United States' current term on the council ends next year, when it could revert to the observer status held by other countries that are not members".