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US Quits United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

June 21, 2018 | By

Washington/Geneva: The United States of America (USA) has withdrawn from the United Nations Human Rights Council accusing it of “chronic bias” against Israel, in a move that was criticised by human rights groups and described as regrettable by foreign leaders.

The decision to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council was announced on Tuesday (June 19) by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN.

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights,” she said alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, DC.

Minutes later, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, called the announcement by US President Donald Trump’s administration “disappointing, if not really surprising”.

The US’ announcement comes after the council voted last month to probe the killing of scores of Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip and accused Israel of excessive use of force, notes AlJazeera.

Press statement by the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Vojislav Šuc (Slovenia)

GENEVA, 19 June 2018 — Today I learned of the decision by the United States to withdraw its membership from the Human Rights Council.

While I recognize it is the prerogative of any member State to take such a decision, I wish to acknowledge that the United States has been a very active participant at the Council having engaged constructively on numerous issues aimed at improving the lives of rights holders around the globe, including the many issues which we are addressing in our current session. The Human Rights Council always stands to benefit from constructive engagement of its member States.

In times when the value and strength of multilateralism and human rights are being challenged on a daily basis, it is essential that we uphold a strong and vibrant Council recognizing it as a central part of the United Nations for the 21st century.

Over the past 12 years, the Human Rights Council has tackled numerous human rights situations and issues keeping them in sharp focus. In many senses, the Council serves as an early warning system by sounding the alarm bells ahead of impending or worsening crises. Its actions lead to meaningful results for the countless human rights victims worldwide, those the Council serves.

The Human Rights Council is the only intergovernmental body responding to human rights issues and situations worldwide, with the active participation of civil society. It provides a unique setting to hear a wide range of views, including those which other organisations are unable or unwilling to discuss.

Evidence of the significant role the Council plays is on display at our current session where dozens of independent human rights experts and investigative bodies, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other participants, will appraise the international community about human rights issues and situations throughout the world.

The matter of filling the vacancy left in the Council membership through the United States’ decision will need to be addressed by the United Nations General Assembly.


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