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20 June 2018, 11:55 | Bernice Figueroa
U.S. Expected to Withdraw From UN’s Human Rights Council
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his unwavering support of the decision: "Israel thanks President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Haley for their courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council".
"For too long", Haley said, "the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias".
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the United States for the "courageous decision" to leave the body, which he called a "biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights". In her remarks Tuesday, Haley specifically cited countries like Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, both of which are members of the body.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, called on Washington to halt its "unconscionable" policy.
Shortly after its establishment in 2006, the council voted to make a review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel a permanent feature of every session, known as Agenda Item 7.
The "hypocritical and self-serving" body "makes a mockery of human rights", said U.S. envoy to the UN Nikki Haley.
After weeks of speculation, the United States will officially pull it's membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council Tuesday afternoon. "What is clear, is that the secretary-general is a strong believer in the human rights architecture of the United Nations and the active participation of all member states in that architecture". Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council.
Among other reasons for the United States withdrawal, Haley named "chronic bias against Israel", its key ally. It also wanted more strict guidelines for membership, as well as the ability to kick out countries with a record of human rights violations. Other contentious moves have included slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum against key trading partners, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv.
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The US is halfway through a three-year term on the United Nations rights body, but its criticism of the council's operations have been a feature of the Trump administration, which has threatened to leave on several previous occasions.
Rights groups have criticized the Trump administration for not making human rights a priority in its foreign policy. It was only in 2009 that the USA joined the organization under President Barack Obama, whose administration argued that US membership could better steer it.
The decision, should it come to pass, would occur after months of talks between the US and other member countries, with the USA critical of agenda items singling out Israel for condemnation over its treatment of Palestinians. "The United States has proven, yet again, its commitment to truth and justice and their unwillingness to allow the blind hatred of Israel in global institutions to stand unchallenged", Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said in a statement.
A number of charities and aid groups criticised the move, with the American Civil Liberties Union saying the Trump administration was leading a "concerted, aggressive effort to violate basic human rights".
"When we made it clear we would strongly pursue council reform, these countries came out of the woodwork to oppose it", Haley said.
The U.S.is the first country to voluntarily leave the council since its inception in 2006.
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