The US is withdrawing from the United Nations human rights council, the Trump administration announced on Tuesday, calling it a “cesspool of political bias” that targets Israel in particular while ignoring atrocities in other countries.
The US problem with the body is twofold: the make-up of its membership and what it considers a disproportionate focus on allegations of human rights abuses committed by its ally, Israel.
In 2006, when the council was established, then-US President George W Bush refused to join because the organization included members accused by Washington of human rights violations.
The country changed tack under the former Obama administration, but the ascent of Trump put Washington’s continued membership back under the spotlight.
Rights groups have criticized the Trump administration for not making human rights a priority in its foreign policy. Critics say this sends a message that the administration turns a blind eye to human rights abuses in some parts of the world.
The US withdrawal from the body could bolster countries such as Cuba, Russia, Egypt, and Pakistan, which resist what they see as UN interference in sovereign issues.
The UN body was established in 2006 with the aim of promoting and protecting human rights around the globe, as well as investigating alleged human rights violations.
It is made up of 47 member states, which are selected by the UN General Assembly on a staggered basis each year for three-year-long terms.
Members meet around three times a year to debate human rights issues and pass non-binding resolutions and recommendations by majority vote.
The council also carries out the Universal Periodic Review of all UN member states, which allows civil society groups to bring accusations of human rights violations in member states to the attention of the UN.