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Haley slams rights groups after US quits UN council

US Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley, seen here at the State Department June 19, 2018, accuses human rights groups of "unrelenting bias" against Israel
AFP Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday accused human rights groups of thwarting a US push for changes to the UN Human Rights Council and contributing to Washington’s decision to quit the body.

In a letter sent to non-governmental organizations, Haley complained that they had played a “deconstructive” role by refusing to support US efforts to take Israel off the council’s agenda. 

Haley on Tuesday announced that the United States was quitting the rights council, condemning the “hypocrisy” of its members and its alleged “unrelenting bias” against Israel.

“You should know that your efforts to block negotiations and thwart reform were a contributing factor in the US decision to withdraw from the council,” said Haley in the letter seen by AFP. 

“You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue.”

Eighteen rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International wrote to UN member-states in May to express concern that a proposed US draft resolution at the General Assembly could weaken the rights council.

“By attacking and blaming NGOs for its own failure, the Trump administration is taking a page out of the book of some of the worst governments around the world,” said Human Rights Watch’s UN director Louis Charbonneau.

The rights group had warned that the proposed changes could trigger “hostile amendments,” possibly from China and Russia, to undermine the work of the council which monitors human rights crises worldwide.

“Such hostile proposals could enjoy broad support and the US might not be able to stop them,” said Charbonneau.

Haley had repeatedly threatened over the past year to quit the 47-nation Geneva-based body unless there were reforms to its agenda and to the election of its members, which often run unopposed as a region’s candidate, regardless of their rights record.

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