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U.S. Quits UN Human Rights Council

U.S. Quits UN Human Rights Council

U.S. Quits UN Human Rights Council

One day after being criticized by the top UN human rights official for its policy of separating children from their parents at the border, the United States quits from the main UN human rights organ, the Human Rights Council.
 
The Trump administration making good on a pledge to leave the body on Tuesday, it accused of hypocrisy and bias against Israel. “For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said Tuesday at the State Department in Washington along with secretary of state Mike Pompeo. She said the decision was an affirmation of U.S. respect for human rights, a commitment that “does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”
 
The 47-member council, created in 2006 and based in Geneva, began its latest session on Monday with a broadside against Donald Trump's immigration policy by the UN’s high commissioner for human rights. He called the policy of separating children from parents crossing the southern border illegally “unconscionable.”
 
The Trump administration is under intense criticism from business groups, human rights organizations and lawmakers from both parties over the recently imposed policy.
 
The council also has been a forum for criticism of Trump’s economic policies. In a report on the U.S. due to be submitted to the Human Rights Council this week, Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on poverty, said the president’s tax overhaul “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”
 
The report says that while the U.S. has long been the most unequal among developed nations, it’s getting worse under Trump. “The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest,” it said.
 
The United States has always had a conflicting relationship with the UN Human Rights Council. The Bush Administration decided to boycott the council when it was created in 2006 for many of the same reasons cited by the Trump administration. The then UN ambassador was John Bolton - who is currently President Trump's national security adviser and a strong critic of the UN. It wasn't until years later, in 2009, that the United States re-joined under the Obama administration.
 
Condemning the planned withdrawal from the UN group, Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the decision “sends a clear message that the Trump administration does not intend to lead the world when it comes to human rights.”
 
“The Trump administration’s withdrawal is a sad reflection of its one-dimensional human rights policy -- defending Israeli abuses from criticism takes precedence above all else,” Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth said in a statement. 
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This is just the latest rejection of multilateralism by the Trump administration, and will likely unsettle those who look to the United States to protect and promote human rights around the world.
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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 organization and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Other contentious moves have included slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum against key trading partners, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv.