Thursday, 13 December, 2018

United States to Withdraw from UN Human Rights Council Today

One of dozens of fires in southern Israel One of dozens of fires in southern Israel
Steven Clarke | 20 June, 2018, 03:29

After weeks of speculation, the United States will officially pull it's membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council Tuesday afternoon. She says it's clear those calls for change were not heeded.

Washington has long accused the council of being biased against Israel. It has also criticized the council for including in its membership governments that frequently abuse their citizens' human rights, such as China and Saudi Arabia.

Since a year ago, Haley's office has pushed the council and its chief not to publish a United Nations database of companies operating in West Bank settlements, a so-called blacklist that Israel is concerned could drive companies away and cast a further pall over its presence in the Palestinian-claimed West Bank.

The top United Nations human rights official voiced dismay at USA decision, saying that Washington should step up its engagement given the number of violations worldwide.

Diplomats have said the USA withdrawal could bolster countries such as Cuba, Russia, Egypt and Pakistan, which resist what they see as United Nations interference in sovereign issues.

Sheila Gewolb, Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies said: "We welcome the Foreign Secretary's bold, clear and important intervention at the UN Human Rights Council". "Being a member of this council is a privilege, and no country who is a human rights violator should be allowed a seat at the table".

The move also comes in the days following the United States' president embracing the world's worst murderous dictator.

Israel is the only country with a dedicated council item. All other 192 United Nations member states are considered together under a separate item, if they are discussed at all.

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He added: "Given the state of human rights in today's world, the U.S. should be stepping up, not stepping back".

"Amb. Nikki Haley will soon announce America's withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council".

But Pompeo was scathing in his assessment of the council, calling it an "exercise in shameless hypocrisy, with numerous world's worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world's most serious offenders sitting on the council itself".

The council, she said, is "an organization that is not worthy of its name". A group of 12 organizations including Save the Children, Freedom House and the United Nations Association-USA said there were "legitimate concerns" about the council's shortcomings but that none of them warranted a US exit.

The U.S. has always been believed to be preparing to leave the UNHRC over what administration officials say is unfair treatment of Israel, but the expected announcement will come a day after its chief called the Trump administration's family separation policy "unconscionable".

The administration of US President Donald Trump has warned that it could quit the UNHRC if the list is published.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program, said Trump's "misguided policy of isolationism only harms American interests".

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