The Human Rights Council chamber in Geneva - UN Photo/By Elma Okic The Human Rights Council chamber in Geneva - UN Photo/By Elma Okic

U.S. withdrawal from UNHRC 'American scandal': Abu Saeda

Sat, Jun. 23, 2018

CAIRO – 23 June 2018: The Head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Hafez Abu Seada, stated on Friday that the United States’ withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council is considered an "American scandal" as the withdrawal contradicts the values and principles of the U.S. Constitution.

On Tuesday, the U.S. withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council accusing it of a "chronic bias against Israel,” according to Reuters.

Abu Saeda said to Egypt Today that this is not the first time for the U.S. to withdraw from a national organization. In 2017, the U.S. pulled out of UNESCO, the international scientific and cultural heritage organization, accusing it of being “anti-Israel biased”.

This decision of withdrawal implies that the U.S. no longer has the right to discuss or vote in the United Nations Human Rights Council, Abu Saeda added.

"There is a fixed item on the agenda of the meetings of the Council about the Palestinian crisis and Israeli violations in the occupied territories," he said, stressing that the United Nations and its affiliated bodies deal with the Israeli army as an occupying force, and there are attempts from the U.S. side to cancel that.

Many activists warned that the U.S. move would make advancing human rights globally even more difficult.

Standing with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Haley slammed Russia, China, Cuba and Egypt for preventing U.S. efforts to reform the council.

"Look at the council membership, and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights," said Haley, citing Venezuela, China, Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Reuters.

The council holds a meeting three times a year to examine human rights violations worldwide. It has even mandated independent investigators to examine situations in Syria, North Korea, Myanmar and South Sudan. The council's resolutions are not legally binding but carry moral authority.

"The U.N. Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel," said Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth to Reuters.
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