Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

China 'disappointed' with USA move to quit United Nations rights body

China 'disappointed' with USA move to quit United Nations rights body

On Tuesday, the United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council, according to an announcement made by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. She also criticized countries which shared U.S. values and encouraged Washington to remain, but "were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo".

Washington's retreat - officially notified to the world body on Wednesday - is the latest US rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

President Trump has recently faced widespread, vociferous condemnation for his "zero tolerance" immigration policy that is separating children from their families at the US-Mexico border.

Speaking about the decision Tuesday night, Pompeo called the organization a "poor defender of human rights".

"The Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy - with numerous world's worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world's most serious offenders sitting on the council itself", Pompeo said. She did not mention Saudi Arabia, which rights groups pushed to be suspended in 2016 over killings of civilians in the Yemen war.

"We have lost a member who has been at the forefront of liberty for generations".

Once the country name or names are submitted, a date will be selected by the United Nations and Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak for election by the 193-member General Assembly. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the United States decision.

The US' move is unprecedented in the 12-year history of the council, as no country has ever dropped out voluntarily.

"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", says Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch in NY. Washington also relocated its embassy to Jerusalem after recognising it as the capital of Israel, reversing decades of U.S. policy. However, Haley notes how "this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments". Critics say this sends a message that the administration turns a blind eye to human rights abuses in some parts of the world.

"You put yourself on the side of Russian Federation and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue", Haley wrote.

Mr. Bolton said the decision to withdraw also addresses USA sovereignty.

All parties attach great importance to the council, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said here. Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. withdrew from the council's predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, citing similar issues.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Programme, said Trump's "misguided policy of isolationism only harms American interests".

No-one, she argues, is lily white when it comes to human rights, not the least America which has allowed kids to be "ripped away from their parents".

Charbonneau cited a commission of inquiry set up for war-torn Syria, saying that it "has been working for the last seven years uncovering ghastly abuses and reporting publicly on them"; the establishment of a fact-finding mission on Myanmar, "where we've seen ethnic cleansing on a scale that is mind-blogging"; as well as "looking at the problems in South Sudan, Burundi, Congo and North Korea". Its resolutions are not legally binding but carry moral authority.

Bolton - who has long opposed the council -voted against creating it, while he was serving as ambassador to the United Nations back in 2006. Its members are elected for three-year terms by the UN General Assembly, with a specific number of seats allocated for each region of the world.

The United States' current term on the council ends next year.

"But the primary reason why the USA is pulling out of the council now is because of its efforts to reduce or eliminate of the unfair criticism, in the US' view, of Israel's treatment of Palestinians", she added.

The council last month voted to probe killings in Gaza and accused Israel of using excessive force.

Elizabeth Wilde, deputy head of mission in Geneva for Australia, said her country "shares numerous U.S.'s concerns about the HRC", but will continue to support the council "despite its flaws".

"China advocates and commits itself to safeguarding multilateralism, and supports the UN Human Rights Council and other mechanisms to work together for the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide, Geng said".

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