Just when you think that the political drama could not get any worse, it does. In fact, I should probably stop thinking that, because the actions of this administration continue to astonish me. In the Trump administration's latest move, on Tuesday June 19, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley announced that the U.S. will leave the U.N. Human Rights Council, and the timing of this move seriously could not be any worse.
In a joint statement from Haley and Pompeo at the White House on June 19, they announced that the United States will formally withdraw from the U.N. council, calling it a "hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights."
Haley stated that the United States's reasoning for removing themselves from the council was motivated by the council's "disproportionate focus" on resolutions against Israel in comparison to other nations that have demonstrated human rights violations, such as North Korea. As the BBC notes, Israel is regularly reviewed by the council for its treatment of Palestinians. Haley said,
Earlier this year, as it has in previous years, the Human Rights Council passed five resolutions against Israel. More than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria, combined. This disproportionate focus and unending hostility towards Israel is clear proof that this council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights.
Pompeo also chimed in during the joint statement made to the press, where he called the council an inadequate defender of human rights. He said,
Governments with egregious human rights records sit on the Human Rights Council. We have no doubt that there was once a noble vision for this council, but today we need to be honest — the Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights. Worse than that, the Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy.
While that criticism of the council isn't new, it's kind of mind-blowing that Pompeo would note that there are countries currently sitting on the council that have a history of human rights violations when the world is currently criticizing Trump's new southern border "zero tolerance policy" which separates migrant children from their parents as human rights abuse. In fact, the United States' motion to quit this council comes just a day after the U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein slammed Trump's policy as "unconscionable" and called on the United States to immediately put a stop to the policy. “The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” he said.
Some people noticed the timing.
Haley and Pompeo didn't take any questions following the conference, but that didn't stop one reporter from asking Haley's retreating back whether or not the timing of move to remove the U.S. from the council "was related to criticism of the border policy." Ugh — what I would give to hear an honest response to that.
This news comes just a day after Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen held an extremely problematic press conference at the White House on June 18, where she was asked about whether or not she believes that the new "zero tolerance policy" that's separating children from their families along the southern border is child abuse.
CNN's senior White House correspondent Jeff Zelny pressed Nielsen on this question, and Nielsen seemingly evaded answering it by saying that the government takes care of the detained children. "We give them meals, we give them education, we give them medical care, there's videos, there's TVs," said Nielsen, as if these things could replace the fact that a child's guardian was taken from them by force.
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez also denounced the Trump administration's move to leave the council. He said in an official statement to the press,
Trump’s withdrawal is especially disturbing given his persistent praise for despots and dictators with abysmal human rights records, not to mention his administration’s cruel mistreatment of immigrant families seeking asylum. His blatant disregard for basic human rights will have dire and tragic consequences for marginalized people across the globe for years to come.
Listen, all I'm saying is that leaving a council on human rights, after you've been accused of human rights abuses, probably isn't a good look. Honestly, I think it's all that needs to be said.