Haley blasts human rights groups for 'thwarting' reform of United Nations council

The United States announced Tuesday it was leaving the United Nations' Human Rights Council, with Ambassador Nikki Haley calling it "an organization that is not worthy of its name". In citing what it says is bias against Israel, the administration of President Donald Trump could further fuel Palestinian arguments that Washington cannot be a neutral mediator as it prepares to roll out a Middle East peace plan.

"The US has once again dealt a powerful blow to its own human rights protection reputation showing disregard for both the Human Rights Council and the United Nations and the bodies it includes in general", she said.

"It's a setback that they've made this decision because the cooperation has been good", said Soini.

The United States withdrew from a "hypocritical and self-serving" United Nations Human Rights Council, on June 19, over what it called against Israel and a lack of reform, a move activists warned would make advancing human rights globally even more hard.

"For too long the human rights council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias", Haley said, adding that calls from the USA for the council to reform have not been heeded.

Slovenian ambassador Vojislav Suc, who now holds the council's rotating presidency and has been pushing a faltering reform drive, described the Geneva-based chamber as the best place to trigger action on unsafe rights crises. "Such a council, in fact, damages the cause of human rights", Haley said.

Diplomats have said the USA withdrawal could bolster countries such as Cuba, Russia, Egypt and Pakistan, which resist what they see as United Nations interference in sovereign issues. "The world's most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing and scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks". The United States is traditionally one of its largest donors.

"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 at a press conference announcing the move. The official wasn't authorized to comment publicly and insisted on anonymity. But Haley cited longstanding USA complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel.

I guess it comes down to degree but what's the point of having a three year rotation of countries on the council, regardless of the transgressions they're meant to be there to protect?

At the rights council, the United States has recently been the most unabashed critic of rights abuses in China - whose growing economic and diplomatic clout has chastened some other would-be critics, rights advocates say.

When the Council was created in 2006, US President George W. Bush's administration shunned the body.

"The UN Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel", said Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth. The U.S. joined the body only in 2009 under President Barack Obama.

  • Jon Douglas