United States pulls-out of UN Human Rights Council

United States (US)

Srinagar: The United States has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday, branding the global body a “cesspool of political bias.”

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” she said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said earlier that Haley would make an announcement regarding the council at 5 PM (2100 GMT).

Last week, numerous reports from US diplomats indicated the US’ “imminent” intentions to withdraw, citing the Geneva-based organization’s condemnation of Israeli violence against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Since coming into office last year, Haley has routinely accused the 47-member body of a “chronic anti-Israel bias.” She warned during an address last year that the US would disengage from the council without thorough reforms.

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A State Department official told The Independent last week that the US “wants a Human Rights Council that fulfils its purpose as the premier international focal point for human rights issues,” adding that “all too frequently, it fails to address critical situations for political reasons – and undermines its own credibility.”

It remains unclear whether the US will announce its withdrawal or leave its seat empty for this session, which began this week and runs through July.

Human rights organizations have condemned the expected decision, asking Pompeo to reconsider.

The Human Rights Council – which was formed in 2006 and gained US support in 2008 under the Obama administration – has not shied away from criticizing Israel’s policies against Palestinians.

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The US, a stalwart supporter of Israel, has complained about the body’s periodic review of Israel’s human rights and instead asked for more attention to be given to other offenders, such as Venezuela and Syria.

The US already announced its intention to withdraw from the UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over the issue of criticism against Israel.

Since taking office last year, US President Trump has regularly criticized multilateral organizations, including the U.N., and threatened to withdraw from or reduce participation in them.

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