Geneva/Washington: The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Chief, and other activists and NGOs on Wednesday slammed the United States for its decision to pull out of the council accusing it of "chronic bias" against Israel.
Called the announcement by US President Donald Trump's administration "disappointing, if not really surprising", in a message posted on Twitter the UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said, "Given the state of human rights in today's world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back."
The US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Tuesday announced the United States' decision to withdraw from the United Nations' top human rights body.
"We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights," she said alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, DC.
The European Union said the move "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 it "regrettable".
On the other hand, Israel, a major ally of the US, praised Washington's "courageous" move.
Haley had earlier in the past repeatedly threatened to quit the Geneva-based body, established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights worldwide. The announcement by the US comes after the council voted last month to probe the killing of scores of Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip and accused Israel of excessive use of force, and strong UN criticism of Trump’s policy to separate migrant children from their families at the US-Mexico border.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Monday “the thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.”
Human Rights Watch criticized the move, warning that Washington’s absence at the top UN body would put the onus on other governments to address the world’s most serious rights problems.
“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,” said HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth.
“The UN Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel.”
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