Monday, June 18th | 5 Tammuz 5778

Close

Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

Subscribe
June 14, 2018 4:34 pm

American Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council Appears ‘Imminent,’ US Source Says

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Email a copy of "American Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council Appears ‘Imminent,’ US Source Says" to a friend

The UN Human Rights Council meets in Geneva. Photo: UN.

Talks with the United States over how to reform the main UN rights body have failed to meet Washington’s demands, activists and diplomats say, suggesting that the Trump administration will quit the Geneva forum whose session opens on Monday.

A US source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the withdrawal appeared to be “imminent” but had no details.

Diplomatic sources said it was not a question of if but of when the United States retreats from the Human Rights Council, which is holding a three-week session through July 6.

A separate US official in Geneva had no information about a looming pull-out during the upcoming talks, saying: “We are still moving ahead with our engagement for the coming session.”

Related coverage

June 18, 2018 12:34 pm
0

Trump Disapproval and Drop in Foreign Investment Among Fears Raised by South African Diplomats Over Potential Israel Embassy Downgrade

Senior diplomats in South Africa are reported to be at "loggerheads" with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) over plans...

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, publicly told the council a year ago that Washington might leave the body unless a “chronic anti-Israel bias” were removed.

The forum, set up in 2006, has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories, which Washington wants removed. No other country is subject to a similar item.

Washington says the council is stacked with opponents of Israel and boycotted it for three years under President George W. Bush before rejoining under Barack Obama in 2009.

The 47-member forum last month voted to set up a probe into violence in Gaza and accused Israel of excessive use of force. The United States and Australia cast the only “no” votes. Israel‘s ambassador in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, castigated the council for “spreading lies against Israel.”

Lack of consensus

Talks held in Geneva and in New York for months could not find consensus around a new agenda, according to activists and diplomats who have taken part.

While the Trump administration has yet to announce a decision, any suspension or withdrawal would be the latest US rejection of multilateral engagement after pulling out of the Paris climate agreement and the deal with world powers over Iran’s nuclear program.

Diplomats said it could also lead to Israel being even more isolated in the Human Rights Council and could bolster countries such as Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia who resist what they see as UN interference in sovereign issues.

The European Union failed to find a common position, mainly due to Belgium’s wish to keep Israel firmly on the agenda of each session, they said.

The United States also wants to make it easier to kick off member states with egregious rights records. Haley has cited Venezuela, China and Saudi Arabia as violating standards.

The council has ongoing investigations into violations in hot spots including Myanmar, South Sudan, and Syria, with a view to gathering evidence that could lead to future prosecutions.

Marc Limon, executive director of the think tank Universal Rights Group, said there were “rumors and mutterings” of a “political decision” having been taken in Washington to disengage.

“They could either leave the seat empty, which could happen in June, or if withdrawing, formally notify the (UN) General Assembly,” he told Reuters.

Swiss Ambassador Valentin Zellweger said: “The decision by the Americans will have a profound impact on the Council. If they withdraw, we can expect significant consequences.”

The United States had long played a “leadership role” in the council, Zellweger said, adding: “Unfortunately I agree with them that not all members fulfill the (membership) criteria.”

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Alexandru-Vasile Salamon-Stoic

    A new deal with World ” we have tehnology to disturb our planet , but we don´t develope ability to run it “… Abraham Lincoln ” America will never be destroyed outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms , it will be because we destroyed ourselves ” .

Algemeiner.com