US leaves UN Human Rights Council

“As we said we would do a year ago if we did not see any progress, the United States is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council,” US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in Washington, DC on June 19.

Haley said that US’ withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council is not a retreat from human rights commitments.

“On the contrary, 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,” she said.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.

The 47 Member States are elected by the majority of members of the General Assembly of the UN through direct and secret ballot. Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

US’ term in UN Human Rights Council expires in 2019.

“We did not make this decision lightly. When this administration began 17 months ago, we were well aware of the enormous flaws in the Human Rights Council. We could have withdrawn immediately. We did not do that,” Haley said.

She said that after US’ “good-faith effort to resolve the problems” – “the situation on the council has gotten worse, not better.”

“One of our central goals was to prevent the world’s worst human rights abusers from gaining Human Rights Council membership,” Haley said citing Congo.

“Another of our goals was to stop the council from protecting the world’s worst human rights abusers,” she said citing Venezuela, Cuba, and China who are members of the council.

“Look at the council membership and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic human rights. These countries strongly resist any effort to expose their abusive practices. In fact, that’s why many of them run for a seat on the Human Rights Council in the first place: to protect themselves from scrutiny. When we made it clear we would strongly pursue council reform, these countries came out of the woodwork to oppose it. Russia, China, Cuba, and Egypt all attempted to undermine our reform efforts this past year,” she said.

“America has a proud legacy as a champion of human rights, a proud legacy as the world’s largest provider of humanitarian aid, and a proud legacy of liberating oppressed people and defeating tyranny throughout the world. While we do not seek to impose the American system on anyone else, we do support the rights of all people to have freedoms bestowed on them by their creator. That is why we are withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, an organization that is not worthy of its name,” she added.