Trump Administration to Announce US Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council

Charlene Craig
June 20, 2018

"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 past year.

"But 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".

Bloomberg News notes the HRC began its latest session on Monday by discussing the US media's new obsession, the "policy of separating children from parents crossing the southern border illegally", which High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein called "unconscionable".

"For our part, the United States will not sit quietly while this body, supposedly dedicated to human rights, continues to damage the cause of human rights", Haley said during her speech a year ago.

Haley has called for other reforms to the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying the group should make it easier to expel states with poor human rights records.

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"When a so-called Human Rights Council can not bring itself to address the massive abuses in Venezuela and Iran, and it welcomes the Democratic Republic of Congo as a new member, the council ceases to be worthy of its name", said Haley.

"It is essential that this council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility", she said.

"The Trump administration's withdrawal is a sad reflection of its one-dimensional human rights policy: defending Israeli abuses from criticism takes precedence above all else", Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said. The U.S. has also criticized a lack of stringent membership criteria for some countries involved with the council, according to CNN.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Haley, said: "Too many commitments have gone unfulfilled". The body has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories that Washington wanted removed.

The U.N. Human Rights Council was established in 2006 as a successor to the Human Rights Commission, which was criticized for politicized abuse and the unrepentantly oppressive practices of many member states, exactly as the Trump administration is criticizing the Human Rights Council today. Israel's ambassador in Geneva attacked the council for "spreading lies against Israel". "The UN's Human Rights architecture plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide".

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The U.S. withdrawal from the council isn't exactly a surprise.

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The United States' current term on the council ends next year. Critics say this sends a message that the administration turns a blind eye to human rights abuses in some parts of the world.

There are 47 countries in the Human Rights Council, elected by the U.N.'s General Assembly with a specific number of seats allocated for each region of the globe.

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. 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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Barack Obama chose to have the U.S. rejoin the new UNHRC shortly after taking office.

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