US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley announced the decision to quit the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, dismissing the international body as a "protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias." While explaining the decision, Haley argued that the council possessed a "chronic bias" against Israel.
The announcement has been roundly condemned, with Israel being the notable exception. US allies, foes and human rights groups alike have all been lambasting the move as detrimental to the council's stated goal of promoting and protecting human rights around the globe.
The European Union commented that the withdrawal "risks undermining the role of the US as a champion and supporter of democracy on the world stage," while British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called the move "regrettable."
Labour MP Richard Burgon went one step further, speculating that the decision was prompted by Trump's desire to have "even less scrutiny of his horrific policies."
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that, while she was concerned by the council's "anti-Israel bias," she nonetheless urged the Trump administration to remain on the UNHRC and attempt to reform it from within.
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Belgian's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders said that he was "disappointed" by the announcement but that Belgium would "remain committed" to the council in order to "continue fulfilling its essential role."
"It saddens me that the US has decided to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council. It comes at a time when the world needs more human rights and a stronger UN – not the opposite," Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's minister for foreign affairs wrote in response to the US decision.
Beijing joined the chorus of criticism, with Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressing the country's "regret" over the US decision to leave the council. China wasn't the only Asian nation to weigh in. Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Jakarta "deeply regrets" the United States' decision to withdraw from the UNHRC.
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