WASHINGTON, DC, USA, 19 JUNE 2018 – The United States is withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council describing the Council as “hypocritical and self-serving” and blaming it for what Washington calls its “chronic bias against Israel.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley made the announcement Tuesday. They explained that the Council has not implemented “essential reforms” that would have been required were the U.S. to maintain membership of the 47-member body.
“Every individual has rights,” said Pompeo in a statement. “They are given by God and no government should take them away.” He accused the Council of “shameless hypocrisy… saying one thing, and doing the other.”
“The only thing worse than a Council that does almost nothing to defend human rights is a Council that covers for human rights abusers,” Pompeo said. He cited China, Cuba and Venezuela as some of the countries with egregious human rights records who, according to him, should not but currently seat on the Council.
Ambassador Haley added DR Congo to the list of countries undeserving of the Council’s membership. She cited the ongoing discovery of mass graves in DR Congo, saying this was unfolding as the country was being admitted into the Council. Haley said countries with poor human rights records have sought a seat in the Council in other to prevent the U.N. body from scrutinizing their human rights violations.
According to Pompeo and Haley, the Council has preferred to scapegoat some countries. They cited Israel, pointing out that the Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than all other countries of the world combined.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his thanks to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Council Denied Access to Investigate Rights Violations in the Cameroons
One proof that the Council barks but cannot bite was provided Monday by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, who heads the Council. During a session of the Council Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, he lamented the fact that the Council has been prevented from doing its job by Cameroon.
The regime of Paul Biya of the Republic of Cameroun (independent on 1st January 1960) has denied the Council access to investigate abuses by the regime’s occupation forces in the neighboring Republic of Ambazonia, formerly Southern Cameroons (independent on 1st October 1961).
Haley and Pompeo said the U.S. will continue to promote human rights around the world. Should the Council reform, she said, the U.S. will be happy to rejoin. Haley explained that Washington is withdrawing because, according to her, the Council “is not worthy of its name.”
The withdrawal of the U.S. comes a day after U.N. human rights officials criticized the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Implementation of that policy has led to nearly 2,000 children being separated from their parents at some U.S. border crossings.
“The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein Monday in an address.
Several previous U.S. administrations have been critical of the Council. Some have threatened quitting without ever following through. It is during President Barack Obama’s tenure that the U.S. was first elected as a member of the Council in 2009.
Since January 2018, the Trump Administration has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord; it has left the U.N. Educational and Cultural Organization; and has pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal.