The US has pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, calling it a “cesspool of political bias”.
The “hypocritical and self-serving” body “makes a mockery of human rights”, said US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley.
The move, which the Trump administration has threatened for months, came one day after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed the separation of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border as “unconscionable.” An issue the first lady has recently spoken out about.
Ms Haley announced her country’s intention to quit the council at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called the council “a poor defender of human rights”.
Ms Haley blasted the council for a “disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel,” citing a series of resolutions highlighting alleged abuses by the Israeli government of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
In the most recent use of US veto power, the US objected to the formation of a Palestinian protection order from the UN. However despite this the policy was adopted and is due to be implemented.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the move however, thanking Trump and Haley for their “courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council.”
“For years, the UNHRC has proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organisation that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights,” he said.
The UN expressed disappointment. “The Secretary-General would have much preferred for the United States to remain in the Human Rights Council,” said Stéphane Dujarric.
Formed in 2006, the Geneva-based council has been criticised for allowing countries with questionable human rights records to be members. It is formed of a group of 47 elected countries from different global regions, serving three-year terms on the council.
Commentators say the most recent cases of Human Rights violations were seen at the Mexican border and the internationally condemned violations against Gaza protesters. And that provides the real reason for the withdrawal, as the US received intense criticism over the Trump administration’s policy of separating child migrants from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
But activists said the US move could hurt efforts to monitor and address human rights abuses around the world.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the decision was “regrettable”, arguing that while reforms are needed, the UNHRC is “crucial to holding states to account”.
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