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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 10, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 10
Trump administration may quit UN Human Rights Council
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Trump administration may quit UN Human Rights Council

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Trump administration is thinking about pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), according to a report in Politico.

The UNHRC was established in 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights. The commission had been criticized for being both too interventionist and too lenient on some of its member states, like Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe.

The George W. Bush administration refused to join the new council, but President Barack Obama felt it was more useful to be part of the UNHRC and try to influence it from the inside.

The council started its new session on March 6 with the US still participating, indicating that no final decision has been made to withdraw.

The ultimate decision on membership in the council would likely involve Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and of course Trump himself, Politico said.

A source identified as 'a former State Department official briefed on the discussions' said that one issue is what some Trump aides consider unfair 'targeting' of Israel for building new settlements in Palestinian territory.

Russia has also been a target of UNHRC criticism. In 2016, Russia was voted off the council by the UN General Assembly because of its involvement in reported war crimes in Syria.

Overall, Politico reports, the Trump administration just doesn't believe the body is useful to US foreign policy.

'There's been a series of requests coming from the secretary of state's office that suggests that he is questioning the value of the US belonging to the Human Rights Council,' the former official said.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner did not address the rumors but told Politico, 'Our delegation will be fully involved in the work of the HRC session, which starts [March 6].'

White House press aides and Ambassador Haley declined to comment on the reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose relationship with the Obama administration was strained, has made it clear he looks forward to working with Trump.

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