Reuters is reporting that an administration source says the United States will formally withdraw from the UN Human Rights Commission.
Since its inception in 2006, the HRC has passed dozens of resolutions condemning Israel for human rights abuses while remaining virtually silent on abuses by Hamas and Hezbollah. The Trump administration has been threatening to withdraw U.S. participation for years and now, apparently, the president is ready to pull the trigger.
A U.S. 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 U.S. 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.”
Nikki Haley, the U.S. 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 occupied Palestinian territories, which Washington wants removed.
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.
It isn’t just the anti-Israel bias and outright anti-Semitism of some HRC members. The roster of member states that are elected to the HRC by the General Assembly is like a who’s who of oppressive governments.
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 hotspots 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 (U.N.) 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.”
Someone cue the world’s smallest violin.
That Cuba, China, Venezuela, and Egypt belong to an organization that passes judgment on the human rights record of Israel and other democratic states is surreal. Only at the UN, where anti-American, anti-Israel political posturing is accepted as a matter of course, can such cynical hypocrisy exist.
Not only should the U.S. withdraw from the HRC, Congress should refuse to give another penny to such a wildly misnamed organization.