Moscow (AFP) – Russia on Wednesday voiced surprise at the United States’ decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, accusing Washington of “gross cynicism” and “disregard” for the world body.
“The US has once again brought a powerful blow to its own human rights reputation by demonstrating its disregard for the UN and its bodies,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing in Moscow.
She charged the US with “stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the existence of serious human rights problems at home while at the same time trying to shape the council under its own interests”.
She also criticised the US for “imposing a specific American understanding of human rights on other countries”.
Zakharova said the withdrawal was “unexpected” for Moscow although “a precedent was already set with UNESCO”, the UN’s Paris-based cultural body that Washington left in October last year.
“The UN Human Rights Council has worked effectively without the US in the past and we hope that it will continue to do so,” she said.
Washington withdrew on Tuesday, condemning the “hypocrisy” of council members and an alleged “unrelenting bias” against Israel.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, went to Washington to announce the decision alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The announcement came after the top UN human rights official criticised Washington for separating migrant children from their parents who are seeking asylum after arrival from Mexico.