The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council over its biased treatment of Israel and its failure to address serious abuses throughout the world.
“For too long the Human Rights council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Tuesday evening, speaking at a joint press event with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“The US is officially withdrawing form the UNHRC. This step is not a retreat from human rights commitments. 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.
The council damages the cause of human rights, she said, and also pointed out a long-standing issue of anti-Israel bias.
Israel is “singled out in a way that no other country is singled out,” she said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked US President Donald Trump, Pompeo and Haley “for their courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council.”
“For years, the UNHRC has proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights,” Netanyahu said. “Instead of dealing with regimes that systematically violate human rights, the UNHRC obsessively focuses on Israel, the one genuine democracy in the Middle East.”
“The US decision to leave this prejudiced body is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough,” he stated.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman similarly praised the move, calling it a "courageous decision."
"America will continue to lead the world in advancing human rights without the baggage of this corrupt organization," he wrote on Twitter.
Prior to the announcement, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), urged the US to remain engaged in the council so that it could work from within to effect change.
"When we walk away, we leave countries with horrific human rights records like Venezuela to fill the void,” Deutch said. "The US should be the leading voice on human rights around the world. We diminish our influence when we cede leadership by silencing our own voice.”
UNHRC President Ambassador Vojislav Šuc of Slovenia said he regretted the US decision. “The Human Rights Council always stands to benefit from constructive engagement of its member States.”
“In times when the value and strength of multilateralism and human rights are being challenged on a daily basis, it is essential that we uphold a strong and vibrant Council recognizing it as a central part of the United Nations for the 21st century,” Suc said.
“Over the past 12 years, the Human Rights Council has tackled numerous human rights situations and issues keeping them in sharp focus. In many senses, the Council serves as an early warning system by sounding the alarm bells ahead of impending or worsening crises. Its actions lead to meaningful results for the countless human rights victims worldwide, those the Council serves,” he remarked.
“The Human Rights Council is the only intergovernmental body responding to human rights issues and situations worldwide, with the active participation of civil society. It provides a unique setting to hear a wide range of views, including those which other organizations are unable or unwilling to discuss.”
The US is one of the UNHRC’s 47-members. From the start of the Trump Administration Haley has repeatedly warned the UNHRC that it must halt its anti-Israel bias and institute reform measures.
Among the bones of contention between the US and the UNHRC is the Agenda Item 7 mandate which requires a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at each session. No other country has such a mandate leveled against it.
All concerns regarding human rights abuses in all the other countries around the world are debated under Agenda Item 4.
In the last month the US has waged a stiff behind the scenes battle at the UN to eliminate Agenda Item 7 but did not succeed in swaying countries to eliminate the mandate.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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