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US withdraws from UN Human Rights Council and labels it a 'cesspool of political bias'

The US claimed that the UN is biased against Israel.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during an emergency session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during an emergency session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE UNITED STATES has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, US ambassador Nikki Haley said this evening, branding the global body a “cesspool of political bias”.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 organisation that makes a mockery of human rights,” she said.

Haley, Trump’s envoy to the UN, said the US had given the human rights body “opportunity after opportunity” to make changes.

She hit out at the council for “its chronic bias against Israel” and lamented the fact that its membership includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Haley at the State Department, said there was no doubt that the council once had a “noble vision”.

“But today we need to be honest,” Pompeo said. “The Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights.”

The announcement came just a day after the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents.

But Haley, cited longstanding US complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel. She had been threatening the pull-out since last year unless the council made changes advocated by the US.

“Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded,” Haley said.

Still, she suggested the decision need not be permanent, adding that if the council did adopt reforms, “we would be happy to rejoin it”.

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She said the withdrawal notwithstanding, the US would continue to defend human rights at the United Nations.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed regret over the American decision to quit the UN Human Rights Council, saying he would “have much preferred” for the United States to remain.

“The UN’s human rights architecture plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide,” he said in a statement from his office.

With reporting by AFP

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