The US may withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The United States is considering an exit from the United Nation’s Human Rights Council, unless it gets its way on a few key pieces of reform, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters, the U.S. will make its intentions known on Tuesday via Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

The U.S. is said to be reviewing its place on the council over its stance on Israel, Reuters reported. Just this weekend Haley wrote a critical op-ed of the council for the Washington Post claiming it “whitewashes” brutality. In the op-ed Haley noted alleged abuses in Venezuela, “whose government shoots protesters in the street,” and in Cuba, “whose government imprisons thousands of political opponents.”

She went on to write that “of course” the United States supports human rights, but that this council acts as a “showcase for dictatorships that use their membership to whitewash brutality.”

Haley explained she will make her feelings known to the council and outline her requirements for America’s continued involvement. Those requirements include making membership on the council available only through competitive voting to keep “the worst human rights abusers from obtaining seats” and that the council immediately ends its practice of “wrongly singling out Israel for criticism.”

John Fisher, Geneva director of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, told Reuters he doesn’t fear a U.S. withdrawal from the council. Fisher added that while he believes Israel earned the council’s scrutiny for its human rights records, the special attention played to the country is concerning.

"It is an anomaly that there is a dedicated agenda item in a way that there isn't for North Korea or Syria or anything else," Fisher said.

As the Washington Post additionally reported, the Human Rights Council was established in March 2006 to replace the Human Rights Commission. The U.S. refused to join the council under President George W. Bush, however eventually joined in 2009 under President Barack Obama.

At the time, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement, "Human rights are an essential element of American global foreign policy. With others, we will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system to advance the vision of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights."

Some, however, sharply disagreed. John R. Bolton, ambassador to the United Nations in 2005 and 2006 under President George W. Bush, told the Post that joining the council was like “getting on board the Titanic after it's hit the iceberg.”