Two members of the Florida congressional delegation with key foreign policy assignments on Capitol Hill weighed in on the Trump’s administration to leave the UN Human Rights Council.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador the UN, weighed in why the administration made that decision.
“One year ago, I traveled to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. On that occasion, I outlined the U.S. priorities for advancing human rights and I declared our intent to remain a part of the Human Rights Council if essential reforms were achieved. These reforms were needed in order to make the council a serious advocate for human rights. For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” she said. “Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded. Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council. The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing and scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks.
“Therefore, 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. In doing so, I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments; on the contrary, we take this step 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 added. “We did not make this decision lightly. When this administration began 17 months ago, we were well aware of the enormous flaws in the Human Rights Council. We could have withdrawn immediately. We did not do that.”
Haley ripped into the UN Human Rights Council, accusing it of having a “chronic bias against Israel.”
“Last year, the United States made it clear that we would not accept the continued existence of agenda item seven, which singles out Israel in a way that no other country is singled out,” Haley said. “Earlier this year, as it has in previous years, the Human Rights Council passed five resolutions against Israel – more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined. This disproportionate focus and unending hostility towards Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehitnen, R-Fla., the first woman to ever lead the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and currently the chairwoman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, applauded the news. Ros-Lehtinen was the author of the “Promoting Equality and Accountability at the United Nations Act” which cut funds for the Council unless it made major reforms.
“It’s long past due, but today’s decision by the administration to withdraw the United States from the UN’s Human Rights Council is welcome news,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Tuesday. “For far too long, the Council has been a platform used by the world’s worst human rights violators to shield themselves from criticism of their abysmal records while attempting to isolate and delegitimize the democratic Jewish state of Israel. As long as the body’s representation includes countries like Cuba, Venezuela, China, or other governments that actively work against what the Council is supposed to promote and support, and as long as it continues to push an anti-Israel bias and an anti-American agenda, the United States should not legitimize it with our presence. The Council lost its credibility long ago and it has a long way to go and numerous reforms to undertake before it can begin to repair that reputation. And until we see those reforms, the United States should not waste hard earned taxpayer dollars by being a part of such a sham.”
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the ranking Democrat on the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, criticized the Council but thought it will only get worse without the U.S. taking part in it.
“The United Nations Human Rights Council ignores some of the most egregious human rights abuses in the world, and its membership includes notorious human rights violators,” Deutch said. “The Council also wrongly and obsessively focuses on our ally Israel. Unfortunately, none of that will change if we are not at the table to lead the reform efforts.”