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As World Commemorates 70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Looks Like Trump About to Ditch UN Human Rights Council

According to activists and diplomats in Geneva, withdrawal appears to be "imminent"

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley

In June of 2017, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said: "America does not seek to leave the Human Rights Council. We seek to reestablish the council's legitimacy." (Photo: United States Mission Geneva/Flickr/cc)

While the global community celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, activist and diplomatic sources tell Reuters that the Trump administration is planning to pull the United States out of the Human Rights Council, the U.N.'s main body for such issues.

Sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the withdrawal appears to be "imminent," and due to the 47-member council's refusal to comply with the administration's demands for change, but added that U.S. diplomats are still preparing for the upcoming three-week session, which starts Monday.

In response, Swiss Ambassador Valentin Zellweger said: "The decision by the Americans will have a profound impact on the council. If they withdraw, we can expect significant consequences."

Reaction by progressives on social media was unkind toward the prospect of the U.S. further destroying its already troubled record on human rights:

Nikki Haley, the Trump-appointed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., has yet to comment on the report, but last year she threatened to pull out because of what the administration perceived as "chronic anti-Israel bias." In an op-ed for the Washington Post ahead of the 2017 summer session, Haley expressed frustrations over resolutions focused on Israel while outlining the human rights records of Iran, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela.

As Reuters noted, the council "has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories, which Washington wants removed." Since the last regular session ended in March with the U.S. opposing five resolutions that targeted Israel, Israeli forces have killed more than 100 unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza. In response to the violence, last month the council convened a special session, accused Israel of using excessive force, and voted to open an investigation.

The latest report of imminent U.S. withdrawal follows U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres' message this week marking the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace, for which the theme of commemorations is "The Right to Peace—The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70." Envisioning a future in which "we will witness an end to violence," Guterres emphasized: "There is more to achieving peace than laying down weapons. True peace requires standing up for the human rights of all the world's people."

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