U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivered a warning this week that anti-Israel bias and loose membership parameters could lead the U.S. to reconsider its participation in the U.N. Human Rights Council, the intergovernmental agency that works to protect human rights around the globe.
Haley, speaking to the council in Geneva on Tuesday, said that two factors are leading her and the U.S. to look deeper at its membership in the agency: the treatment of Israel as well as controversial members such as Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela — nations known for their own slew of human rights abuses, the Forward reported.
The ambassador argued that the council “undermines its own credibility” as well as human rights principles more generally when it fails to act and allows members guilty of abuses to remain in its ranks.
“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,” Haley said during the address. “It is essential that this council address its chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility.”
She proceeded to say that the U.S. is “looking very carefully” at its participation in the council and that there are areas for “significant strengthening.” That said, Haley made it clear that the U.S. doesn’t want to leave the Human Rights Council, but that the nation, instead, seeks to “reestablish the council’s legitimacy.”
The U.S., according to the Washington Post, seeks to make admission to the council more competitive so that nations that abuse human rights can’t easily gain membership.
“Being a member of this council is a privilege,” Haley told the 47-member body. “And no country who is a human rights violator should be allowed a seat at the table.”
It should be noted that former president George W. Bush — citing some of the same critiques as Haley — pulled out of the council in 2006, with subsequent president Barack Obama later rejoining.