Published: Tue, June 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump Administration to Announce US Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council

Trump Administration to Announce US Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council

The Trump administration is expected to pull back from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday in protest of what it perceives as an entrenched bias against Israel and a willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members.

A decision to leave the 47-nation body, as most observers anticipate, would be more definitive than the lesser option of staying on as a nonvoting observer.

The decision comes a day after the U.N. human rights chief slammed the administration's policy of separating migrant parents from their children after they enter the United States at the Mexican border, calling it "unconscionable" and akin to child abuse. Nevertheless, the move will add to concerns that the United States is, under Trump, retreating from its leading position as an global advocate for human rights.

In March 2011, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously suspended Libya's membership in the council because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The decision came just after the assembly rejected the US proposal to add an amendment to condemn attacks against Israel carried out by rulers of the Hamas terror group. In the first year, the council's first 11 resolutions targeting a specific nation were aimed at Israel.

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At the same session, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned that his country would begin voting against anti-Israel resolutions unless the UNHRC stopped its bias against the Jewish state by the end of 2018.

Under the presidency of George W. Bush, the United States declined to join the council, questioning how different it would be than the commission. Israel's ambassador in Geneva castigated the council for "spreading lies against Israel". In that situation, the US would be able to speak out on rights abuses, but not to vote. "USA leadership matters. We're still the only ones with credibility on human rights on the world stage".

The presence of multiple human rights-violating countries on the Human Rights Council has damaged both the reputation of the council and the cause of human rights. She has also called for ways to expel members of the council that have poor human rights records themselves. Item 7 on "Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories" has been part of the council's regular business nearly as long as it has existed.

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