The United States on Tuesday quit the United Nations Human Rights Council, calling it a “cesspool of political bias”. US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley claimed the “hypocritical and self-serving” organisation had made a “mockery of human rights”, BBC reported.
Haley cited the council’s “entrenched bias against Israel”, the admission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo into the body though mass graves were discovered there, and the “failure” to address human rights abuses in Venezuela and Iran as reasons for leaving the council, according to The Washington Post.
“I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments,” Haley said during a joint media interaction with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “On the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights.”
The US envoy claimed that countries with a bad human rights record try to seek a seat on the council to avoid scrutiny and then block reform. “When we made it clear we would strongly pursue council reform, Russia, China, Cuba, and Egypt all attempted to undermine it,” Haley said.
Pompeo added, “The only thing worse than a council that does almost nothing to protect human rights is a council that covers for human rights abuses, and is therefore an obstacle to progress and an impediment to change.”
The US’ move to withdraw came a day after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein criticised the Donald Trump administration for separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents at the US border, calling the policy “unconscionable”. Last week, the UN General Assembly had adopted a resolution condemning Israel for using “excessive force” at the Gaza border.
Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, defended the UN’s human rights agency, and said it “plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide”. “The Secretary-General would have much preferred for the United States to remain in the Human Rights Council,” he said.