05:46 GMT09 April 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States made a decision on Tuesday to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council which drew criticism from lawmakers and UN officials.

    "As we said we would do a year ago, if we did not see any progress, the United States is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council," Haley told reporters in a press conference on Tuesday.

    The US ambassador emphasized that its decision does not indicate a retreat from human rights commitments. The United States will continue to push for reform within the UN Human Rights Council and may rejoin in the future if reform is achieved, Haley said.

    Haley Faults Council

    Haley criticized the council as being a hypocritical organization that makes a mockery of human rights.

    "We take this step [to withdraw] 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," Haley said.

    Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council, such as Venezuela and the newly-elected Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Haley added.

    She also mentioned that the UN Human Rights Council failed to respond to human rights abuses in Venezuela and Iran within the past year. The US envoy accused the body for having a chronic bias against Israel.

    Israel welcomed the US decision to leave the UN Human Rights Council, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement.

    "The US decision to leave this prejudiced body is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough," the office said in a Twitter post-Tuesday evening. "For years, the UNHRC has proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights."

    The prime minister’s office added that the council is focusing on Israel, which is "the one genuine democracy in the Middle East" instead of dealing with other nations in the region that do not respect human rights.

    Disappointment

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in a statement that the United Nations is disappointed by the US decision to withdraw from the Human Rights Council.

    "Disappointing, if not really surprising, news," Ra’ad said via Twitter on Tuesday.

    The commissioner emphasized that if one considers the state of human rights in the world today, the United States should be "stepping up, not stepping back."

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that the UN regrets the US decision to withdraw because of the important role the organization plays in protecting human rights around the world.

    US Senator Edward Markey said in a press release on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s decision to pull the United States out of the council damages US credibility with a wall separating the country from the rest of the world.

    "Withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council is President Trump’s way of building a wall around the entirety of our country, not just at the southern border," Markey said. "Withdrawal from the Council further damages America’s leadership and credibility around the globe."

    Earlier in the day, US Congressman Eliot Engel said in a statement that the Trump administration would lose influence for the United States and the leverage to affect diplomatic outcomes if it goes ahead with its decision to leave the UN Human Rights Council.

    "By withdrawing from the council, we lose our leverage and allow the council’s bad actors to follow their worst impulses unchecked, including running roughshod over Israel," Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

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    Tags:
    retreat, critics, controversy, withdrawal, UN Human Rights Council, Nikki Haley, United States
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