Fri, Jun 22, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Haley slams NGOs for failures at UN

BLAME GAME:The ambassador said that NGOs’ alignment with Russia and China regarding Israel contributed to the US’ decision to withdraw from the rights council


US Ambassador to the UN 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 to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Haley said 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 US was quitting the 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,” Haley said in the letter. “You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States on a key human rights issue.”

Haley was referring to a letter by 18 rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, to UN members last month expressing concern that a US draft resolution at the UN General Assembly could weaken the council.

The groups had said that the proposed changes could trigger “hostile amendments,” possibly from China and Russia, to undermine the work of the council.

“Such hostile proposals could enjoy broad support and the US might not be able to stop them,” Human Rights Watch UN director Louis Charbonneau said.

In the end, the US did not push ahead with its proposals at the assembly because of a lack of support from allies who said that changes could have unwanted consequences or might fail to win adoption.

Reforms are underway to improve the workings of the 47-nation council, but the US “walked away from” that effort and chose instead to “theatrically” quit the council, Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said.

“By attacking and blaming NGOs for its own failure, the [US President Donald] Trump administration is taking a page out of the book of some of the worst governments around the world,” Charbonneau said.

Haley had over the past year repeatedly threatened to quit the council 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.

The US last year urged African nations to back away from supporting the candidacy of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the appeal fell on deaf ears.

NGOs had also raised concerns about giving the nation a seat at the council, citing the violence in Kasai, the murder of two UN experts who were investigating mass graves there and the arrests of scores of opposition demonstrators.

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