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Haley: U.N. Security Council Can’t Allow Kim, Putin, Assad Regimes to ‘Act With Impunity’

'Sovereignty gives no country the right to trample on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others'

• February 21, 2018 7:15 pm

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday that national sovereignty is no excuse for the U.N. Security Council to allow nations to violate human rights, specifically calling out the leaders of Russia, Syria, and North Korea.

"Soverignty is crucially important," Haley said. "The United States will never forfeit our sovereign right to govern ourselves and determine our future. All member states share this right."

Haley spoke at length about the importance of sovereignty but argued that some governments use it to justify bad behavior and to claim that the council "has no business meddling in their affairs."

"But sovereignty gives no country the right to trample on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others," Haley continued.

After stating that "human rights are the Security Council's business" because of the U.N. Charter, Haley listed human rights abuses carried out by other countries:

Sovereignty is no excuse for a government to use violence and rape to expel a minority group to a neighboring country, as the Burmese security forces have done. And sovereignty is no excuse for this council to do nothing. Sovereignty is no excuse for a regime to gas its own people, as the Assad regime is doing in Syria, and for this council to do nothing. Sovereignty is no excuse for any dictatorship to abuse its people, spark violence, foment regional conflict, and then get off scot-free. If that were true, there would be no reason for us to be here.

Haley thanked the Security Council's work imposing sanctions on North Korea, but warned that member states need to work more to enforce them.

"Let me repeat: the sovereign rights of nations are fundamental," Haley said. "But when we don't uphold the principle of sovereignty by allowing the Kim, Assad, and Putin regimes to act with impunity, just the opposite is true."

Haley again addressed the sovereignty objection to addressing human rights abuses, claiming that, "when the Security Council provides accountability for nations that violate the U.N. Charter, we protect sovereignty."

Haley finished her speech by thanking Kuwait for calling the meeting and being "a living reminder of what this institution can accomplish when it lives up to the principles of the charter."