Trump administration will withdraw US from UN human rights council, report says

The US Ambassador Nikki Haley said last year that the group has a 'chronic anti-Israel bias' 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Friday 15 June 2018 17:50
Comments
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley leaves after addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland 6 June 2017.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley leaves after addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland 6 June 2017.

President Donald Trump's administration is said to be set on withdrawing the US from the United Nations Human Rights Council. which meets for a new session next week

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has accused the 47-member organisation based in Geneva of “chronic anti-Israel bias” since she came into office last year and according to a number of reports, the withdrawal is “imminent,” particularly after UN's recent condemnation of Israel's violence against Palestinians in Gaza.

Diplomats believe it is a case of when, not if, the US withdraws according to Reuters, although the State Department did not say in a statement that a decision had been made.

A State Department official told The Independent but that the US "wants a Human Rights Council that fulfils its purpose as the premier international focal point for human rights issues".

The official said that "at its best" the Council compels violators to act towards "positive action," however they noted that " all too frequently, it fails to address critical situations for political reasons – and undermines its own credibility".

The human rights body was formed in 2006, but was shunned administration of President George W Bush. In 2009, President Barack Obama reversed thet decision after taking office.

US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley lashes out at UN hypocrisy

The council's critical stance of Israel has long been a contentious issue for the US, Israel's main ally. Ms Haley had said last year at this time that Israel is the “only country permanently on the body’s calendar”.

The US ambassador had at the time also called on the council to vote on resolutions against Venezuela, Syria, Eritrea, Belarus, Ukraine and the Democratic Republic of Congo and opposed a periodic review of Israel’s human rights.

The council has a permanent item on the agenda, item seven, looks at suspected violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, which Washington wants removed.

In the last year, that stance may have become more entrenched as the US officially recognised the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A withdrawal would mark the latest move by Mr Trump's administration to snub elements of the international community. The US also last month that it would be pulling away from the six-party Iran nuclear deal, which had provided a reduction of sanctions on Tehran in exchange for the country halting development of its nuclear weapons programme.

The US has also already said it will withdraw from the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) citing an anti-Israel bias.

Nikki Haley says no country would have used more restraint than Israel in killing 60 protesters

Anjali Dayal, an international security professor at Fordham University, told The Independent that the US move is “not a surprise” given Ms Haley’s consistent stance regarding the council and Israel. Washington has also repeatedly accused the council of shielding the repressive regimes it should be condemning, allowing such nations to join the body and then potentially use it to thwart scrutiny.

Mr Trump has also long been critical of multilateral organisations, including the UN as a whole, as well.

However, Ms Dayal said the US is not without “valid criticisms” of the body. There are “human rights abusers with seats on the Council,” Ms Dayal explained.

But, Ms Dayal argued the issue was “not an unknown” drawback of the council. Ms Haley knew this was a problem coming into office since activists, observer groups, and smaller nations have complained about differing regional processes that allow it to happen for years.

But, Ms Haley is “going much more the Bush administration route,” Ms Dayal said. But the US “will have to be in the room” in order to make any significant change to the council.

The State Department official told The Independent the US "will continue to discuss and work with other UN member states for significant reform of the [Council], and seek to advance human rights wherever and whenever we can," but did not elaborate on what kind of action or negotiating that would entail.

Never in the 12 years of the council, has a serving member dropped out voluntarily. Seven years ago, in the midst of the Arab Spring, Libya was kicked out with the approval of the UN General Assembly.

The 47-member council opens the second of its three annual sessions Monday, when UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein makes his last address to a regular meeting before stepping down in August.

In terms of the options the US has, secretary of state Mike Pompeo could opt for a full withdrawal from the council— the option preferred by Ms Haley — or remain in the room as an observer, without the right to vote on resolutions.

Associated Press contributed to this report

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in