The European Union has criticised the decision by the United States to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying that it “risks undermining the role of the US as a champion and supporter of democracy on the world stage”.
Speaking at a June 19 news conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told reporters, “For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.”
She accused the council of “chronic bias” against Israel, the Voice of America reported.
Haley said that the US had tried for the past year to reform the council, but to no avail, adding: “Look at the council membership, and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights,” she said, citing human rights abuses by Venezuela, China, Cuba and Democratic Republic of Congo.
A statement by the spokesperson for the EU’s foreign policy arm, the European External Action Service (EEAS), said that the US ” has always been at the forefront of the protection of human rights around the world and has for many years been a strong partner for the European Union in the Human Rights Council.
“Today’s decision risks undermining the role of the US as a champion and supporter of democracy on the world stage. The European Union will nevertheless continue to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, whether in multilateral fora or around the world, also by cooperating with the US whenever possible.”
The promotion and protection of human rights is at the heart of the EU’s foreign policy and a central pillar of the UN system, the EEAS said.
“For its part, the European Union remains steadfastly and reliably committed to the Human Rights Council as the United Nations’ main body for upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide. We reaffirm our support to the effective and efficient functioning of the Human Rights Council and remain committed to cooperating with all countries and with civil society in order to strengthen the Council, while protecting its achievements.
“We share the objective to make the Human Rights Council more efficient and therefore remain strongly engaged in the ongoing efficiency efforts led by the Human Rights Council President. The EU is and will continue to be a staunch supporter of multilateralism and the wider UN system.”
A statement by the Foreign Ministry of Israel welcomed the US move.
“Israel thanks President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Haley for their courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council.”
For years, the UNHRC had proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.
“Instead of dealing with regimes that systematically violate human rights, the UNHRC obsessively focuses on Israel, the one genuine democracy in the Middle East.
“The US decision to leave this prejudiced body is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough,” the statement said.
(Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)