Haley Says Rights Groups Share Blame for U.S. Quitting UN Panel

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley hit back at groups critical of the Trump administration’s decision to quit the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying they played a “deconstructive” role.

“You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue,” Haley said in a letter to nongovernmental organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, that condemned the withdrawal she announced on Tuesday.

Haley blamed them them for urging defeat of a U.S. draft resolution in the UN General Assembly proposing reforms to the council. The groups said the U.S. initiative was likely to meet serious opposition and would only polarize the body.

“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,” Haley wrote. “Going forward, we encourage you to play a constructive role on behalf of human rights, rather than the deconstructive one you played in this instance.”

‘Cesspool’ of Bias

Announcing the U.S. withdrawal, Haley said it had for too long been a protector of rights abusers and had become “a cesspool of political bias.” She cited perceived animosity against Israel on the council, which has passed many resolutions condemning the country’s treatment of Palestinians.

While Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the U.S.’s “courageous decision,” other traditional allies said the U.S. should have continued to push for changes as a member of the body.

“Germany is also observing the anti-Israel tendencies in the council with concern,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin on Wednesday. “Nonetheless, we are convinced that it’s constructive to reform and strengthen the council from within.”

The letter fit Haley’s with-us-or-against-us approach, which she employed when the U.S. tried -- and failed -- to get the UN Security Council to approve a resolution condemning Hamas for recent violence in the Gaza Strip. On her first day as U.S. ambassador to the world body last year, Haley said she would be “taking names” of countries that “don’t have our back.”

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