“For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias,” Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the UN, said Tuesday at the State Department in Washington. She said the decision was an affirmation of U.S. respect for human rights, a commitment that “does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”
The 47-member council, created in 2006 and based in Geneva, began its latest session on Monday with a broadside against President Donald Trump’s immigration policy by the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. He called the policy of separating children from parents illegally crossing the southern border of the U.S. “unconscionable.”
While the timing was jarring, the U.S. withdrawal had been in the works for some time, and reflects broader skepticism among conservatives toward it. National Security Adviser John Bolton had opposed the body’s creation when he was U.S. ambassador to the UN in 2006.
Haley warned a year ago that the U.S. would pull out if the council didn’t address what she saw as its bias toward Israel and the fact that many of its current members — they include China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — have poor human rights records themselves.
Haley took the lead on the decision Tuesday, as was made plain by the choreography of the announcement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered brief remarks before she spoke, praising Haley and leaving it to her to announce the withdrawal.