Home Politics Trump set to pull US out of UN human rights council

Trump set to pull US out of UN human rights council


The administration of US President Donald Trump is reportedly pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has accused the 47-member organisation based in Geneva for “chronic anti-Israel bias” since she came into office last year and according to a source who spoke to Reuters, the withdrawal is “imminent,” particularly after UN’s recent condemnation of Israel’s violence against Palestinians in Gaza.
“Diplomatic sources said it was not a question of if but of when,” the news outlet reported. The next session of the global body will begin 6 July.
A State Department official did not confirm nor deny the report to The Independent but said the US “wants a Human Rights Council that fulfils its purpose as the premier international focal point for human rights issues”.
The official said that “at its best” the Council compels violators to act towards “positive action,” however they noted that ” all too frequently, it fails to address critical situations for political reasons – and undermines its own credibility”.
This would not be the first time the US has ended its relationship with the organisation. During the administration of President George W Bush the US had left for three years, before rejoining in 2009 after President Barack Obama came into power.
The council’s critical stance of Israel has long been a contentious issue for the US, Israel’s main ally. Ms Haley had said last year at this time that Israel is the “only country permanently on the body’s calendar”.
The US ambassador had at the time also called on the council to vote on resolutions against Venezuela, Syria, Eritrea, Belarus, Ukraine and the Democratic Republic of Congo and opposed a periodic review of Israel’s human rights.
The council’s members have taken a strong position against Israel’s continued occupation of territory seized in the 1967 Six-Day War, its treatment of Palestinians, and its building of Jewish settlements.
In the last year, that stance may have become more entrenched as the US, in December 2017, officially recognised the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The US also said just last month that it would be pulling away from the six-party Iran nuclear deal, which had provided a reduction of sanctions on Tehran in exchange for the country halting development of its nuclear weapons programme.
The US has also already pulled out of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) citing an ant-Israel bias.
Then there is the matter of Mr Trump’s recent summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which was seen as a generally positive step towards peace but Mr Trump’s effusive praise of the dictator accused of numerous human rights violations – including holding up to 130,000 people in prison camps – appalled critics and ruffled feathers of some diplomats at the UN.
Anjali Dayal, an international security professor at Fordham University, told The Independent that the US move is “not a surprise” given Ms Haley’s consistent stance regarding the Council and Israel.
Mr Trump has also long been critical of multilateral organisations, including the UN as a whole, as well.
However, Ms Dayal said the US is not without “valid criticisms” of the body. There are “human rights abusers with seats on the Council,” Ms Dayal explained.
Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia do wield influence in the organisation, where Israel has been perpetually on the calendar.
But, Ms Dayal argued the issue was “not an unknown” drawback of the Council. Ms Haley knew this was a problem coming into office since activists, observer groups, and smaller nations have complained about differing regional processes that allow it to happen for years.
But, Ms Haley is “going much more the Bush administration route,” Ms Dayal explained.
The administration, caught with UN rebuke of the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 among a host of other policies and being a staunch ally of Israel, also decided to leave the table.
But the US “will have to be in the room” in order to make any significant change to the Council, Ms Dayal noted.
Possibly negotiating with UN leadership in New York may work. The US does have a chance to fix the issues “if they wanted to throw enough political weight behind the issue” but playing the “we’re going home because we can’t get what we want” card likely will not help reform efforts, which worries other countries on the Council who were counting on the weight of the US voice.
The State Department official told The Independent the US “will continue to discuss and work with other UN member states for significant reform of the [Council], and seek to advance human rights wherever and whenever we can,” but did not elaborate on what kind of action or negotiating that would entail.
From theindependent.com through Yahoo.com


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