Politics

Nikki Haley Blames Human Rights Orgs for Undermining Efforts to Reform U.N. Human Rights Council

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley / Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley sent a letter on Wednesday to various human rights organizations for undermining U.S. efforts to reform the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Haley attempted to reform two specific areas of the council: its anti-Israel bias and the quality of Council membership. Haley claims that many members were in agreement that the council needed reforms, and Haley sent a draft Human Rights Council Strengthening Resolution to other members, in hopes they could begin negotiations. No countries responded.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Haley announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would leave the Human Rights Council. The reasons for them pulling out of the council were the bias the council has against Israel and the membership of countries with poor records on human rights.

"When a so-called ‘Human Rights Council’ cannot bring itself to address the massive abuses in Venezuela and Iran and it welcomes the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a new member, the Council ceases to be worthy of its name," Haley said. "Such a council, in fact, damages the cause of human rights and then, of course, there's the matter of the chronic bias against Israel."

The New York Times reports that Haley criticized the groups for opposing her efforts to garner support in the U.N. to reform the council. One of the groups Haley sent the letter to, Human Rights Watch, opposed Haley's push for a U.N. General Assembly vote on the reforms.

"The risk was that it would have opened a Pandora’s box of even worse problems," Human Rights Watch U.N. director Louis Charbonneau said.

Haley told the groups that they have aligned themselves on the side of Russia and China, which possess a murky record on human rights.

"You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue," she wrote. "You should know that your efforts to block negotiations and thwart reform were a contributing factor in the U.S. decision to withdraw from the council."

The Times reports that Haley grew frustrated with the groups after they sent a joint letter to member states of the U.N., asking them to oppose Haley's resolution.

Deputy Executive Director for Program for Human Rights Watch, Iain Levine, posted the full letter from Haley on Twitter.

"The idea that human rights groups were trying to undermine genuine attempts to reform the council, or that we were working with countries like Russia, is outrageous and ridiculous," Charbonneau said.