Published: Sun, June 24, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

USA quits United Nations human rights body

USA quits United Nations human rights body

The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday accusing it of a "chronic bias against Israel", a move that activists warned would make advancing human rights globally even more hard.

"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.

Dujarric said: "The secretary-general would want to see a United States that is involved and engaged throughout the U.N. system".

Standing with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Haley slammed Russia, China, Cuba and Egypt for thwarting U.S. efforts to reform the council.

Haley criticized the non-governmental organizations in a letter the day after she announced the US was exiting the council.

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

He said: "The United States' decision to withdraw from the Human Rights Council is regrettable".

Once the country name or names are submitted, a date will be selected by the United Nations and Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak for election by the 193-member General Assembly.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric responded to questions on Wednesday about Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' response to the US withdrawal from the Geneva-based council. The U.S. announced its withdrawal from the council on Wednesday, citing among other things its alleged anti-Israel bias.

Opposition to the decision from human rights advocates was swift.

The United Nations' Human Rights Council returned to business as usual Wednesday despite the US pulling out a day earlier.

Added Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch: "All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel".

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UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein last week asked the Council, whose credibility has been questioned in stark terms by India and now the U.S., to set up a commission of inquiry into alleged abuses in Kashmir. A mere look around the world today demonstrates that the council has failed in its stated objectives. Brett Schaefer, a senior fellow, pointed out that Trump could have withdrawn immediately after taking office but instead gave the council 18 months to make changes.

This followed Israel's unprecedented boycott of one of the council's reviews, alleging unfair criticism from the body. The body has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories that Washington wanted removed. Item 7 on "Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories" has been part of the council's regular business nearly as long as it has existed.

Zeid's term ends at the end of this year and his successor will have to be appointed by Guterres with the approval of the General Assembly. The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, announced the pullout Tuesday, criticizing the council for "its chronic bias against Israel" and pointing out that it includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela and Congo. The official wasn't authorized to comment publicly and insisted on anonymity.

The Russian mission described the council as a "key worldwide platform for cooperation in protecting human rights". Among reforms the United States had been seeking was to make it easier to kick out member state with egregious rights records. "The U.S.' absence will only compound the council's weaknesses", they wrote.

Many allies have tried to convince the United States to remain in the council.

The Chinese government expressed regret over Washington's decision to pull out of the council.

"We've made no secret of the fact that the United Kingdom wants to see reform of the Human Rights Council, but we are committed to working to strengthen the council from within".

The Human Rights Council is a 47-country body that draws its mandate from the U.N. General Assembly, and meets three times a year in Geneva.

The the first country to exit voluntarily in the council's 12-year history.

The human rights office, or OHCHR, is a permanent United Nations organization that ultimately falls under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

A group of 47 elected countries from different global regions serve for three-year terms on the council. When the Council was created in 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush's administration shunned the body. The US joined in 2009 under Barack Obama.

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