U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made a sharp speech at the U.N.’s Human Rights Council on Tuesday, calling on the body to fix its “chronic” anti-Israel bias and calling on Venezuela to step down from the Council if it will not end its human rights abuses.
In her address to the Council in Geneva–the first by a U.S. Permanent Representative–Haley renewed the U.S. commitment to human rights and, in particular, its commitment to women’s rights.
“There is no room here for cultural relativism,” she said:
— Department of State (@StateDept) June 6, 2017
The U.S. has had a tense relationship with the Council since Trump took office, particularly over the Council’s anti-Israel bias and its membership, which includes countries with poor human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Cuba. The U.S. has mulled leaving the Council for months and boycotted its opening session in March due to the anti-Israel agenda.
While Haley told the Council that the U.S. is “looking carefully” at U.S. participation in the body, she refrained from giving an outright ultimatum in her address. She did point to a side event on human rights abuses in Venezuela and warned the socialist country that it should step away from the Council if it cannot end its abuses.
“If Venezuela cannot, then it should voluntarily step down from its seat on the Human Rights Council until it can get its own house in order,” she said. “Being a member of this council is a privilege, and no country who is a human right violator should be allowed a seat at the table.”
She then drew a contrast with the way the Council treated Venezuela and the way it treated Israel.
“It’s hard to accept that this Council has never considered a resolution on Venezuela, and yet it adopted five biased resolutions in March against a single country–Israel,” she said. “It is essential that this Council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility.”
Later Tuesday, Haley was scheduled to make an address to the Geneva Graduate Institute, where she said she will outline a plan to make the Council “more effective, more accountable and more responsive.”
Haley’s address comes days after she penned a withering op-ed in the Washington Post in which she blasted the body as a “haven for dictators.”
The Bush administration boycotted the Human Rights Council when it was formed in 2006 as a successor to the Human Rights Commission, which was also criticized for anti-Israel bias and its membership. However, the Obama administration applied for membership in 2009, claiming membership would allow it to reform the body from the inside.
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.