The United States has announced its withdrawal from the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over what it calls the body’s entrenched bias against Israel.
The announcement was made by US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department in Washington on Tuesday.
The US administration accused the UNHRC of hypocrisy and harshly denounced the 47-nation body as biased against the Tel Aviv regime.
“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 headed,” Haley said.
“Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council … Therefore, 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,” she added.
Haley accused governments with woeful human rights records of seeking a seat on the UNHRC to avoid scrutiny and then resisting proposals for reform.
“When we made it clear we would strongly pursue Council reform, these countries came out of the woodwork to oppose it,” she said. “Russia, China, Cuba, and Egypt all attempted to undermine our reform efforts this past year.”
The US ambassador to the United Nations blasted the Geneva-based council as “a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”
Last year, Haley accused the council of “chronic anti-Israel bias” and warned that Washington was reviewing its membership.
During the Tuesday announcement, Pompeo was also scathing in his assessment of the UN Human Rights Council, calling the body an “exercise in shameless hypocrisy, with many of the world’s worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world’s most serious offenders sitting on the council itself.”
“The only thing worse than a council that does almost nothing to protect human rights is a council that covers for human rights abuses, and is therefore an obstacle to progress and an impediment to change,” he said.
The UN Human Rights Council was established in 2006 and Washington joined in 2009 after President Barack Obama came to power. Since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the US has quit the UN cultural agency UNESCO, cut UN funding and announced its withdrawal from the UN-backed Paris climate agreement and Iran nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said the withdrawal is “a sad reflection of the US administration’s one-dimensional rights policy,” adding that Washington’s defense of Israeli abuses takes precedence above everything else.
Scores of Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli forces in Gaza since March 30, when they began protests for their right to return to their homelands in the occupied territories.
In May, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Israel has systematically deprived Palestinians of their human rights, with 1.9 million in Gaza “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death.”
The UN official backed calls for an international probe into Israeli war crimes in Gaza after the regime’s deadly reaction to protests along the Gaza fence which he described as “wholly disproportionate.”
The US administration has for long been pushing the UNHRC to end its scrutiny of Israel’s widespread human rights abuses against Palestinians.