‘Cesspool of political bias’: US announces withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

20 June 2018

‘Cesspool of political bias’: US announces withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

The United States has withdrawn from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), accusing it of protecting “human rights abusers” and being a “cesspool of political bias”.

In an announcement on Tuesday (local time), US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, criticised Russia, China, Cuba, and Egypt for preventing the US from reforming the council, and took aim at US allies which encouraged Washington to remain but “were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo”.

“For too long the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” she said.

“Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded. Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council. The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny, and the council continues politicising and scape-goating of countries with positive human rights records, in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks.”

Ambassador Haley also accused the council of “chronic bias against Israel”, saying the “disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights”.

“Look at the council membership, and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights,” she said, citing Venezuela, China, Cuba, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Australia has responded to the move, saying it shares many of the United States’ concerns, “particularly its anti-Israel bias”, but that it is “disappointed” by the decision.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement: “Australia will continue to work constructively on human rights issues with other countries, including the US. It was our strong preference for the US to remain a member of the UNHRC and I had made this known to senior members of the Trump Administration.”

The move by the US is the latest withdrawal from multilateral efforts after it pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May, the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and the Paris Climate Accords.

It also comes as the US is under fire over an immgration policy which separates children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

The remaining 46 countries on the UNHRC include:

  • African States: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, and Tunisia.
  • Asian States:Afghanistan, China, Iraq, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and United Arab Emirates.
  • Eastern European States: Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
  • Latin American & Caribbean States: Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.
  • Western European & Other States: Australia, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.