Haley blasts rights groups for siding with Russia, China at UNHRC

US Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley smiles at the US Department of State in Washington DC on June 19, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has blasted human rights groups for what she calls their push to “thwart reform” at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by siding with Russia and China.

In a letter to human rights organizations on Wednesday, Haley said activist groups working “opposite the United States” contributed to its pullout from the UNHRC.

On Tuesday, Haley and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Washington's withdrawal over what they called the body’s entrenched bias against Israel.

Speaking at the US State Department in Washington, Haley called the UNHRC a "cesspool of political bias" and accused it of protecting "human rights abusers."

Pompeo was also scathing in his remarks, blasting the UNHRC for its “shameless hypocrisy" in allowing "some of the world’s most serious offenders sitting on the council itself.”

“You should know that your efforts to block negotiations and thwart reform were a contributing factor in the US decision to withdraw from the council,” said Haley in her letter.

“You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue,” she added, referring to a letter by 18 rights groups like Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International to UN member-states in May, where they expressed concern that a US draft resolution at the General Assembly could weaken the rights council.

The rights groups had warned that the proposed changes could trigger “hostile amendments,” possibly from China and Russia, to undermine the work of the council which monitors human rights crises worldwide.

“Such hostile proposals could enjoy broad support and the US might not be able to stop them,” said Human Rights Watch’s UN director Louis Charbonneau.

The US had to drop the resolution due to a lack of support.

Reacting to Haley’s words, HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said reforms to improve the 47-nation Geneva-based UNHRC were already coming but the US “walked away from” those efforts and “theatrically” quitted the council.

“By attacking and blaming NGOs for its own failure, the Trump administration is taking a page out of the book of some of the worst governments around the world,” HRW’s UN director Louis Charbonneau said.

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