June 19, 2018. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley joined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to announce America’s withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) (not to be confused with UN Human Rights Committee, UN Commission on Human Rights, or Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights).
In the picture by Ludovic Courtes (licensed under the Creative Commons). Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room of the Palace of Nations in Geneva
“This step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments,” Ambassador Haley said. “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.”
“For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers,” she added.
Secretary Pompeo said “the Council undermines America’s national interest, as well as that of our allies”.
Reacting to the US decision, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein described it as “disappointing, if not really surprising”.
The US should be “stepping up, not stepping back” given the state of human rights today, the UN High Commissioner tweeted, echoing comments by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he would have “much preferred” the US to remain.
Under General Assembly rules, membership of the Human Rights Council (with headquarters in Geneva) is open to all UN Member States. It is based on fair geographical representation and members serve for three years at a time. They are not eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms. Among current members of the UNHRC: Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Egypt, Rwanda, Tunisia, South Africa, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Togo, Slovakia, Ukraine, China, Iraq, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Croatia, Hungary, Australia, Spain, Brazil, Cuba, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Georgia, Slovenia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom.
The US was first elected to the Council in 2009, three years after the Geneva body was created by the General Assembly as the organization’s principal political human rights body, replacing the Commission on Human Rights.It is only halfway through its current term.
In the U.S. Department of State video: Secretary Pompeo and U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley deliver remarks to the press on the UN Human Rights Council, at the Department of State.
Source of information – US Department of State, UN multimedia