U.S. Withdraws From UN Human Rights Council, Citing 'Unconscionable' Approach to Israel

Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley accuses council of 'making a mockery' of human rights and of failing to denounce violence by Iran against its own citizens

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on as US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at the U.S. Department of State in Washington DC on June 19, 2018.
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP

WASHINGTON – The United States has officially withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced Tuesday, blaming the international organization of being biased against Israel and inefficient in combating human rights violations around the world.

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Haley said that the withdrawal from the council "is not a retreat" and added that the United States tried to reform the council from the inside, but failed to do so because of a lack of cooperation from other countries.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who spoke alongside Haley at a press conference in New York, said that Haley made "tireless" efforts to reform the council before finally recommending to withdraw from it. He added that the council's biased approach towards Israel over the years has been "unconscionable."

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Haley accused the council of failing to denounce violence by the Iranian regime against its own citizens, who rose up in protests during the last winter. She added that instead of dealing with those human rights violations, the council accepted a large number of resolutions against Israel - more than any other country in the world.

Haley accused the council of "making a mockery" of human rights and politicizing the issue in order to attack Israel. Both Haley and Pompeo said that the council provides cover for countries that preform gross human rights violations. Pompeo called the body "a poor defender of human rights."

The Human Rights Council was founded in 2006, and initially the United States refused to join it. That changed in 2009, under the administration of President Barack Obama, who argued that the council was an important body that the U.S. needs to engage with and influence.

A statement from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office thanked Trump, Pompeo and Haley for their decision "against the hypocrisy and lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council."

The statement stated that the council has for years "proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights," and said it "obsessively focuses on Israel" rather than confronting regimes that systematically violate human rights."

The Trump administration's decision "is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough," read the statement.