Ambassador Nikki Haley defended the U.S. decision to quit the United Nations Human Rights Council last month as a stand against “political corruption and moral bankruptcy” and the organization’s “anti-Israel bias.”
“The United States provided the last shred of credibility that the council had, but that was precisely why we withdrew,” Haley said Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. In June, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Haley announced the U.S. decision after the council passed a resolution denouncing Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation” of human rights.
In her most extensive public remarks on the U.S. decision to date, the American ambassador to the UN said that the council and some nongovernmental organizations displayed their political bias against Israel when they worked “publicly against our reforms, telling other countries to work against us.”
The U.S. envoy argued that the organization had been corrupted by the inclusion of countries that are some of the “worst human rights violators,” repeatedly referring to China, Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The ambassador asserted that Venezuela wasn’t being duly policed despite having “descended further into a dictatorship” and a history of “massive abuses” even though it sits on the council.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said after Haley’s announcement that he would have “much preferred” the U.S. to remain in the council, which he said “plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.”
Last month, the Trump administration came under fire by the 47-member council, which was created in 2006 and is based in Geneva, over its policy of separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. After the council urged U.S. authorities to “immediately halt” the separations, citing concern that children’s rights were being violated, Haley called out the organization for “hypocrisy.”
“Neither the United Nations nor anyone else will dictate how the United States upholds its border,” she said.
The U.S. decision to withdraw was accompanied by sharp criticism, including by allies such as Germany, which urged the U.S. to push for reform from within the council instead. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “courageous decision.” At the Heritage Foundation, Haley said that many countries secretly voiced affirmation of the U.S. decision “behind closed doors.” She wouldn’t say which countries she was referring to.