WASHINGTON – The United States announced on Tuesday its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, which has come under attack from President Donald Trump’s administration for alleged bias against Israel.
Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, made the announcement accompanied by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“This step is not a retreat from human rights commitments. On the contrary, 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,” Haley said during a press conference at the State Department.
The Trump administration has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the Geneva-based body, citing not only the treatment of Israel but the presence on the council of countries such as China, Cuba, Venezuela, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Haley said she spent months trying to build consensus for reforming the 47-member council to address US concerns.
“When we made it clear we would strongly pursue council reform, these countries came out of the woodwork to oppose it,” she said. “Russia, China, Cuba, and Egypt all attempted to undermine our reform efforts this past year.”
Pompeo chimed in by calling the council an “exercise in shameless hypocrisy, with many of the world’s worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world’s most serious offenders sitting on the council itself.”
Washington’s formal withdrawal from the council comes a day after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized the Trump administration for its policy of criminally charging undocumented immigrants detained on the US-Mexico border and separating of them from their children, who are sent to shelters.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said through a spokesman that he “would have preferred” that the US remain a part of the Human Rights Council.