It was the latest withdrawal by the Trump administration from an international institution.
Haley, President Donald Trump’s envoy to the UN, said the US had given the human rights body “opportunity after opportunity” to make changes.
She lambasted the council for “its chronic bias against Israel” and lamented the fact that its membership includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“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,” Haley said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Haley at the State Department, said there was no doubt that the council once had a “noble vision.”
But today we need to be honest,” Pompeo said. “The Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights.”
The announcement came just a day after the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents. But Haley, cited longstanding US complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel. She had been threatening the pull-out since last year unless the council made changes advocated by the US
“Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded,” Haley said.
Still, she suggested the decision need not be permanent, adding that if the council did adopt reforms, “we would be happy to rejoin it.” She said the withdrawal notwithstanding, the US would continue to defend human rights at the United Nations.
The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from international agreements and forums under the president’s “America First” policy. Although numerous officials have said repeatedly that “America First does not mean America Alone,” the administration has retreated from multiple multilateral accords and consensuses since it took office.
Since January 2017, it has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, left the UN educational and cultural organisation and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Other contentious moves have included slapping tariffs on steel and aluminium against key trading partners, recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
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