US to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council

Mike Pompeo accused the body of being a "poor defender of human rights" and of "bias against Israel"

US to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council

General view of United Nations Human Rights Council 37th Session on 6 March 2018. Picture by: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

The US has announced that it will withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley confirmed the move this evening.

Mr Pompeo said: "We need to be honest - the Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights."

"The Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy - with many of the world's worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world's worst offenders sitting on the council itself.

"Its membership includes authoritarian governments with unambiguous and abhorrent human rights records, such as China, Cuba and Venezuela."

He also accused the council of "bias against Israel".

Ambassador Haley added: "For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abuses, and a cesspool of political bias."

The UN Human Rights Council was founded in 2006, and has 47 members.

US officials had previously called for reform of the organisation.

The US withdrawal comes amid growing domestic and international outrage over the Trump administration's family separation practices at the US-Mexico border.

Discussing the 'zero-tolerance' approach to illegal immigration, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said: "The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.

"I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children, and I encourage the Government to at last ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in order to ensure that the fundamental rights of all children, whatever their administrative status, will be at the centre of all domestic laws and policies."