Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

China says it regrets USA quitting United Nations rights council

U.N. to renew blacklist of companies working in West Bank east Jerusalem U.S. Expected to Withdraw From UN’s Human Rights Council
Andrew Cummings | 22 June, 2018, 15:30

The UNHRC, meanwhile, opened its session on Monday with a blistering attack by Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, on Trump's immigration policy - calling the policy of separating children from their parents at the USA southern border "unconscionable". The organisation's top human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a tweet: "Given the state of human rights in today's world, the U.S. should be stepping up, not stepping back".

Commenting on the announcement, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric expressed regret about the USA move.

The U.S. move to withdraw extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from worldwide agreements and forums under the president's "America First" policy. Israel, meanwhile, has praised the decision.

And Richard Gowan, a fellow at New York University's Center on International Cooperation, told NPR's Michele Kelemen that there is another potential issue muddying the waters of this decision: the recent condemnations leveled at the Trump administration's immigration policies by international human-rights officials.

The ambassador said that America will now pursue human rights work outside the council.

Independent watchdog Human Rights Watch criticised the move, warning Washington's absence at the council would put the onus on other governments to address the world's most serious rights problems. By elevating and protecting human rights violators and engaging in smear campaigns against democratic nations, the UNHRC makes a mockery of itself, its members, and the mission it was founded on.

Why has the USA chose to quit?

The decision, though, became another point of criticism targeting the Trump administration. The US joined in 2009 under Barack Obama. Israel's ambassador in Geneva castigated the council for "spreading lies against Israel".

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Haley said she had tried for more than a year to reform the Council with her team reaching out to 125 countries but failed because the efforts were undermined by Russia, China, Cuba and Egypt among others.

The body has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories that Washington wanted removed.

She called the council a "cesspool of political bias", but stressed: "I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments".

Some countries and diplomats were quick express disappointment about the USA withdrawal.

Efforts by Haley and other senior US diplomats to reform the council have failed in recent months.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was regrettable, and the council was the "best tool the global community has to address impunity".

On Twitter, he said: "US decision to withdraw from the Human Rights Council is regrettable".

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