USA withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

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Haley said the United States will continue to promote human rights outside of the council and would consider rejoining it in the future if reforms are made.

Membership on the council gives countries like the United States a voice in important debates over human rights atrocities, but the council's critics, including Haley, say abusers use their membership to guarantee their own impunity. That's a nine-day narrative, though; the insistence of the UN in having the worst of the world's human-rights abusers sit in judgment on others is an ongoing stain on the United Nations. But the announcement came just a day after the United Nations human rights chief denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents.

Haley also said the "disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights".

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said she had traveled to the council's headquarters in Geneva a year ago to call for reforms, to no avail.

The United States has opted to stay out of the Human Rights Council before: The administration of President George W. Bush decided against seeking membership when the council was created in 2006.

The Human Rights Council opened its latest three-week session Monday, and the High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein blasted the his opening remarks for its "unconscionable" immigration policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the border, calling it "government-sanctioned child abuse".

"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. She also criticized countries which shared USA values and encouraged Washington to remain, but "were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo". When the world's preeminent human rights body is turned into a haven for dictators, the idea of worldwide cooperation in support of human dignity is discredited.

Haley has warned the council previous year that the United States would withdraw from the council if changes were not made.

The move would follow through on last year's threat by the USA ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to leave if certain reforms were not adopted, including the expulsion of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela from the council.

Israel is the only country in the world whose rights record comes up for discussion at every council session, under "Item 7" on the agenda. "The human rights council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy". But UN officials said no member has withdrawn. In recent months, the United States has participated in attempts to pinpoint rights violations in places like South Sudan, Congo and Cambodia. In that situation, the USA would be able to speak out on rights abuses, but not to vote.

Diplomats have said the US withdrawal could bolster countries such as Cuba, Russia, Egypt and Pakistan, which resist what they see as United Nations interference in sovereign issues. The United States and Australia cast the only "no" votes.

The body consists of 47 member states, with a specific number of seats given to each region of the world. It was only in 2009 that the US joined the organization under President Barack Obama, whose administration argued that USA membership could better steer it. After a year off, Washington was re-elected in 2016 for its current third term.