Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

UN says human rights are 'pillar' of its work

UN says human rights are 'pillar' of its work

National Security Adviser John Bolton is defending the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council.

Already on Wednesday, the seat of the U.S. envoy to the council sat empty, as the body convened to discuss summary executions, freedom of expression, the rights of migrants, violence against women and other issues.

Since the United States is a member of the mainly Western group, a candidate or candidates will have to come from that group, known as the West European and Others Group.

China now sits on the council and rights groups have repeatedly criticized Beijing for seeking to stifle criticism of its own conduct.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric responded to questions on Wednesday about Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' response to the US withdrawal from the Geneva-based council.

"Clearly, it's the right decision to get off", Mr. Bolton said during an interview on Fox News' "Fox & Friends".

He says Guterres made these points when U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called him Tuesday to give him "a heads up" about the U.S. action.

"All delegations attach great importance to this body", said Chinese ambassador to the Geneva, Yu Jianhua.

China has weighed in on the U.S.'s recently announced decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council, Reuters reported.

"But the primary reason why the United States is pulling out of the council now is because of its efforts to reduce or eliminate of the unfair criticism, in the US' view, of Israel's treatment of Palestinians", she added. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday.

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But on this one it's hard to disagree with the truculent Trump, the Human Rights Council's about as ineffective as the amorphous, cumbersome, ambulance at the bottom of the cliff (even if on many occasions it's out of fuel) United Nations itself.

Ms Haley berated the groups for not supporting proposed U.S. changes to the UNHRC, saying they "sought to undermine" them and worked "on the side of Russian Federation and China, and opposite the United States".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley announced the decision on Wednesday, making good on a threat Haley made in Geneva a year ago. She added the USA will work with non-governmental groups that share US goals, "but not with ones who undermine them". "On the contrary, 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".

Washington's withdrawal is the latest US rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

"Look at the council membership, and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights", said Haley, citing Venezuela, China, Cuba and Democratic Republic of Congo. The United States has also quit the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO over accusations of anti-Israel bias.

After several months of threats, the Trump Administration has finally chose to pull out of the United Nations' Human Rights Council.

Still, she suggested the decision need not be permanent, adding that if the council did adopt reforms, "we would be happy to rejoin it".

The US and Australia cast the only no votes at the time, while the Israeli ambassador in Geneva attacked the council for "spreading lies against Israel".

But human rights groups voiced fresh complaints about the body in 2013, after China, Russia, Saudia Arabia, Algeria and Vietnam were elected members.

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