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The US withdraws from United Nations Human Rights Council

The US withdraws from United Nations Human Rights Council

United Nations flags

The United States are withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) today (19 June).

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced the decision at the State Department.

In March, the Trump administration threatened to leave the council, arguing a bias against Israel.

Haley released a statement about the consideration at the time.

‘When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran and Syria, it is the council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name,’ she said. ‘Our patience is not unlimited. Today’s actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights.’

Today, Haley and Pompeo once again cited bias against Israel as the reason to quit.

‘I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments,’ Haley said. ‘On the contrary. We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.’

The decision comes midway through a three-year term. They could have decided to remain a nonvoting observer member, but instead chose to leave altogether.

No tolerance

The decision comes in the midst of the Trump administration’s controversial Zero Tolerance Policy.

This policy separates families attempting to cross the US border illegally. Reports from these actions contain horrifying photos and audio of children being separated from adult family members and kept in cage-like facilities.

Donald Trump and his administration are blaming this on a non-existent law from Democrats. In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions created this policy in April 2018.

The US’ has a complicated history with the UNHRC

The UNHRC was first created in 2006. However, the US President at the time, George W. Bush, refused to join, believing the council wasn’t an improvement upon its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission.

At 60-years-old, the original Human Rights Commission was replaced by the UNHRC when it came under criticism for allowing counties like Sudan and Zimbabwe, with bad human rights records, were allowed to join.

When President Barack Obama took office, his administration announced a plan to apply for a seat on the council.

‘Another failure of leadership’

Ty Cobb, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s global department, called this decision another ‘failure of leadership when it comes to the human rights of LGBTQ people and other vulnerable populations’.

‘With this decision, the Trump-Pence administration is leaving a vacuum at the Human Rights Council that may well be filled by countries that have little or no commitment to universal human rights, and will use the Council to pursue their own undemocratic agendas.’

In the past year alone, while Trump has been in office, the United States introduced 125 anti-LGBTI bills.

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