From the EU to China, world blasts US withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council
US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley announced the decision to quit the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, dismissing the international body as a "protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias." While explaining the decision, Haley argued that the council possessed a "chronic bias" against Israel.
The announcement has been roundly condemned, with Israel being the notable exception. US allies, foes and human rights groups alike have all been lambasting the move as detrimental to the council's stated goal of promoting and protecting human rights around the globe.
The European Union commented that the withdrawal "risks undermining the role of the US as a champion and supporter of democracy on the world stage," while British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called the move "regrettable."
Labour MP Richard Burgon went one step further, speculating that the decision was prompted by Trump's desire to have "even less scrutiny of his horrific policies."
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that, while she was concerned by the council's "anti-Israel bias," she nonetheless urged the Trump administration to remain on the UNHRC and attempt to reform it from within.
Belgian's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders said that he was "disappointed" by the announcement but that Belgium would "remain committed" to the council in order to "continue fulfilling its essential role."
"It saddens me that the US has decided to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council. It comes at a time when the world needs more human rights and a stronger UN – not the opposite," Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's minister for foreign affairs wrote in response to the US decision.
Beijing joined the chorus of criticism, with Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressing the country's "regret" over the US decision to leave the council. China wasn't the only Asian nation to weigh in. Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Jakarta "deeply regrets" the United States' decision to withdraw from the UNHRC.
China has upped its Trump trolling. A new interactive feature from Xinhua, the state news agency: "Tracking America's exit from the international community since Trump took office". (Starts with TPP. Culminates, for now, in UN human rights council.) https://t.co/1YZajGctsepic.twitter.com/hsvE53OcGA— Simon Rabinovitch (@S_Rabinovitch) June 20, 2018
In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova characterized the decision as "boorish," adding that the US withdrawal "inflicted a powerful blow to its human rights reputation."
Tuesday's announcement was also widely condemned by human rights groups. Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, called the decision "disappointing, if not really surprising."
"Given the state of human rights in today's world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back," he added.
The Trump-Netanyahu strategy: since you can't get the UN Human Rights Council to stop criticizing Israel (and it shouldn't), US withdraws to try to discredit it. But Trump trying to discredit anyone on rights is, sadly, laughable. https://t.co/0DKSXB32fbpic.twitter.com/MB5cDeshwL— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) June 20, 2018
Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said the withdrawal showed Trump's "complete disregard for the fundamental rights and freedoms the US claims to uphold." Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth joined his counterpart at Amnesty in condemning the move, claiming that 'America First' meant that Trump had decided to ignore the "suffering of civilians" around the world.
However, the announcement was warmly received in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump and Haley for their "courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council."
Congratulations to President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Haley on their courageous decision to withdraw the USA from the UN Human Rights Council. America will continue to lead the world in advancing human rights without the baggage of this corrupt organization. https://t.co/ZjjvilrdJK— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) June 20, 2018
David M. Friedman, the right-wing US envoy to Israel, also offered his congratulations. "America will continue to lead the world in advancing human rights without the baggage of this corrupt organization," he tweeted.
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