The United States announced it is leaving the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission on Tuesday.
The move comes at time when the U.N. Human Rights Commission (a 47-member body with rotating terms) and refugee agency have both condemned the president’s policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border before they get the chance to apply for refugee status. On Monday, the U.N. rights chief called the Trump administration of splitting migrant families “unconscionable.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the U.S. departure from the U.N. rights body at the State Department.
“We have no doubt there was once a noble vision for this council, but we need to be honest, the Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights,” Pompeo said.
“For too long the human rights council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias. Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded,” Haley said. At last year’s session, she announced that the United States would consider withdrawing from the council unless some changes were made and spoke about a “biased” stance against Israel.
In explaining the decision, both Pompeo and Haley also said that the council repeatedly singled out Israel.
Haley has had a contentious relationship with many at the U.N., not only within the Human Rights Council (which is investigating U.S. ally Saudi Arabia for its killing civilians in the war in Yemen), but with the General Assembly as well, which Haley has accused of having an anti-Israel bias.
With the exception of Libya, who was kicked off the U.N. rights council, no country has ever left the body, and the United States would be the first to drop out.
But through Haley, the United States has demonstrated a strong bond with the Israeli government, such that it sanctions all of its actions, including the killing of hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza in recent months and the injuring of thousands of others.
So vehement is Haley’s objection to any perspective that is sympathetic to the Palestinian view that she actually walked out as the Palestinian envoy spoke before the U.N. Security Council in May.
Haley has also objected to the publication of a U.N. database which names companies operating in West Bank settlements, with Israel claiming that it might serve to drive business investments away, in light of its human rights record there.
This represents the United State’s latest departure from a major international institution under President Donald Trump, including the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal.