Pompeo: ‘Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights’

Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo walking down hall(© Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. (© Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 19, citing the panel’s inclusion of serial human rights abusers and its chronic political bias.

“The Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy — with many of the world’s worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world’s most serious offenders sitting on the council itself,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press conference at the State Department with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

“Its membership includes authoritarian governments with unambiguous and abhorrent human rights records, such as China, Cuba and Venezuela,” Pompeo said.

Haley described a “chronic bias against Israel” in the council’s actions. In the past year, Haley noted, the council had 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,” Haley said, “is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights.”

Haley had warned in a June 2017 address to the council that it needed to address its systemic errors or the U.S. would have to “pursue the advancement of human rights outside of the council.” The Trump administration has called for two specific changes:

  • More stringent criteria for the council’s membership to prevent human rights abusers from gaining membership.
  • Removal of an agenda item regarding the human rights situation in Palestinian Territories that Haley said singles out Israel for “automatic criticism.”

In the year since that speech, Haley said, “the situation on the council has gotten worse, not better.” She pointed to its failure to respond to human rights abuses in Iran and Venezuela, and the election to the council of Democratic Republic of Congo, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world.

The U.S. supports the rights of all people to have freedoms bestowed on them by their creator, Haley said. “That is why we are withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, an organization that is not worthy of its name.”

Reform of the United Nations is a priority of the Trump administration. In his first speech before the U.N. General Assembly in 2017, President Trump challenged the U.N. to undertake reforms to make it a more efficient and results-focused body.

“We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow,” said the president in that address. Watch the video.