UPDATE: US announces withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

UPDATE — 6/19, 5:05 p.m. EDT: State Secretary Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared at a joint press conference Tuesday announcing America’s intention to withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council, citing collusion among members, bias against the state of Israel and the committee’s failure to enact requested reforms.

Ambassador Haley specifically called out the council for admitting the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a member, allowing well-known human rights abusers such as China to remain on the panel and singling out Israel for alleged violations more than Iran and Syria combined over the past year.

 

The Trump administration is poised to withdraw the U.S. from the U.N.’s leading human rights panel over the committee’s perceived bias against Israel and neglecting America’s demand the council commit to reforms.

According to Reuters, sources inside the White House have revealed a U.S. departure from the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is “imminent.”

“As we have said numerous times, the U.N. Human Rights Council must be reformed to ensure it has the ability to realize its important mission.  At its best, the HRC calls out human rights violators and encourages positive action. However, all too frequently it fails to address critical situations for political reasons — and undermines its own credibility,” The State Department said Friday.

The expected move follows the panel’s recent condemnation of Israel for its response to six weeks of protests along the Gaza-Israeli border in which over 100 Palestinian protesters were killed between March and May 2018.

Similarly, it is also believe the U.S. will exit the council to protest panel’s refusal to modify Agenda Article 7 of the committee’s bylaws.

An article which mandates the UNHRC regularly debate alleged Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinian people at every session, the Trump administration has repeatedly expressed strong opposition to the rule.

During a June 2017 appearance in Geneva at a U.N. function, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley condemned the rights panel as a forum for “politics, hypocrisy and evasion.”

It is believed the U.S. is considering two options, the first of which is to become an “observer.”  A second option being weighed is for the U.S. to fully end its relationship with the council and abandon its seat.

Should the U.S. decide on “observer” status, it would maintain its diplomatic presence, but abstain from exercising its voting rights on committee matters.

Since the creation of the panel in 2006, member states have included Venezuela, Cuba, China, Pakistan and Libya, all of which have been declared egregious human rights violators.

The council is expected to open its next three-week session on Monday, June 18.

 

[AP] [Reuters]