US Withdraws From United Nations Human Rights Council

Trump Administration Announces US Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council

Image via ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. withdraws from United Nations Human Rights Council following criticism of border policy

A day after the commissioner criticized the White House’s heartbreaking and cruel immigration policy the Trump administration announced that the U.S. would be leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said “anti-Israel bias” led to the U.S. leaving the human rights organization.

“The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” U.N. Commissioner Zeid Raad al-Hussein said Monday. In just a few months, the U.S. has separated at least 2,300 kids from their parents when they crossed the border into the country, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Celebrities, politicians, and millions of Americans across the country have called on the Trump administration to end the cruel practice. Dr. Colleen Kraft, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, called the border policy “government-sanctioned child abuse.”

But the Trump administration has been threatening to leave the council for at least a year over the organization’s focus on Israel’s human rights violations. According to NPR, Haley gave a speech a year ago where she told the council that if it didn’t do what Trump wanted and overlook Israel’s misdeeds, then the U.S. would withdraw. Over the last year, the U.N. Human Rights Council remained silent about Venezuela’s human rights abuses and allowed the Democratic Republic of the Congo to join the council despite its long history of human rights issues. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told NPR that Trump’s obsession with Israel has distracted government officials from the progress the U.N. council has made. “The U.N. Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan,” he explained. “But all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel.”

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Plus, it’s not like Trump or his administration are the first American politicians to criticize the council. Obama and his team had similar issues with the council. Ultimately they joined because U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said they felt that “working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights.” This is why Trump and his administration are being criticized for their decision to withdraw. “The UN Human Rights Council has always been a problem,” Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking Democratic member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, told reporters. “But the way to deal with this challenge is to remain engaged and work with partners to push for change. By withdrawing from the council, we lose our leverage and allow the council’s bad actors to follow their worst impulses unchecked — including running roughshod over Israel.”