When the Trump administration commits to a decision, it goes full throttle—and often with little regard for the consequences. One such decision was announced Tuesday evening: The United States is withdrawing its membership from the UN Human Rights Council, which it joined in 2008, two years after its creation.
The stated reasons for withdrawal ranged from what the Trump administration regards as the council’s seeming lack of interest in addressing abuses in places like Venezuela and Iran, to accusations of partiality. In a press conference on Tuesday, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called the council a “protector of human-rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias,” and said that “America should not provide it with any credibility.”
One of the more obvious reasons for the withdrawal from the council is America’s aversion to what Haley called its “chronic bias” against Israel. She’s been making that case for some time now, telling the body last year that it had a “relentless, pathological campaign” against the country. Even some critics of the U.S. extraction from the council told me that there is some truth to the fact that it does disproportionately single out Israel. One of the council’s longstanding agenda items, for example, is examining human-rights abuses in “Palestine and other Arab territory”—the only item that delineates a particular place or region. Still, for human-rights advocates, 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,” Human Rights Watch Director Kenneth Roth said Tuesday in a statement.
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