USA plans to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council


The US UN envoy Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are set make the announcement later on Tuesday.

Whilst some European states and Australia have also criticised Item 7 in the past, the Trump administration has raised the prospect of the U.S. withdrawing from the council unless it is scrapped.

"This decision is counterproductive to American national security and foreign policy interests and will make it more hard to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world", the organizations said in a joint statement.

Independent watchdog Human Rights Watch criticized the move, warning Washington's absence at the council would put the onus on other governments to address the world's most serious rights problems. She has also called for ways to expel members of the council that have poor human rights records themselves.

While previous U.S. administrations have criticized Item 7, President Donald Trump's government has raised the prospect of quitting the council unless it is scrapped.

The council's current membership includes 14 countries that are ranked as "not free" by Freedom House: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, China, Cuba, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The latter's election to the council was approved "even as mass graves were being discovered" on its territory, she said.

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Ms. Haley has spoken out frequently against the U.N. Human Rights Council and denounced what she called its "pathological bias" against Israel, a major US ally.

The decision was reportedly based on the Council's bias against Israel and its extension of membership to notorious human rights abusers. The US was halfway through its three-year term on the 47-member panel.

U.S. criticism stems from the fact that Israel is the only country that has a dedicated agenda item at council meetings, one defended in particular by the Arab bloc of countries.

A year ago, she denigrated it as a "forum for politics, hypocrisy and evasion", and threatened a USA exit if the council did not kick out abusive regimes and remove Item 7, the standing resolution critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

At the same session, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned that his country would begin voting against anti-Israel resolutions unless the UNHRC stopped its bias against the Jewish state by the end of 2018.

The move comes after the council voted last month to probe killings of Palestinian protesters in Gaza and accused Israel of excessive use of force.

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"The administration has abandoned America's leadership on the global stage on human rights", Miles said in a phone interview.

Nevertheless, the move will add to concerns that the United States is, under Trump, retreating from its leading position as an worldwide advocate for human rights.

FILE - This is a Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2008 file photo, showing a general view of the Human Rights Room (Room XX) at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

The move comes as little surprise from an administration that frequently has lambasted the 47-member body for a gamut of perceived failures - including what Haley has called the council's "relentless, pathological campaign" against Israel, a staunch USA ally.

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