United States withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

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Its resolutions are not legally binding but carry moral authority. "For years, the UNHRC has engaged in ever more virulent anti-American, and anti-Israel invective and the days of USA participation are over".

Said Haley: "I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments".

Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday that the USA is pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council, accusing the body in a statement of bias against Israel.

Haley indicated that the USA was willing to consider rejoining the council if reformed were enacted to address her criticisms. She also criticised countries which shared USA values and encouraged Washington to remain, but "were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo".

The New York-based Human Rights Watch also condemned separation of families, and called President Trump's human rights policy "one-dimensional".

If the United States does in fact drop out, it could shift into "observer" status, meaning it could raise issues but not vote.

What has the reaction been?

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The US diplomat described the UN HRC as "a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights".

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein on Monday called on Washington to halt its policy, saying that "the thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable".

Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, said that the withdrawal is "a convergence" of "a longstanding antipathy toward the United Nations generally on the American right" and "Trump's view that worldwide relations should be transactional and benefit the U.S.".

After the USA decision to quit, he said, "it is essential that we uphold a strong and vibrant council".

Washington's withdrawal is the latest dramatic exit in a long string of United States rejection of multilateral engagements.

The move could further fuel Palestinian arguments that Washington cannot be a neutral mediator as it prepares to roll out a Middle East peace plan.

The decision, should it come to pass, would occur after months of talks between the US and other member countries, with the USA critical of agenda items singling out Israel for condemnation over its treatment of Palestinians.

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But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to support the measure, posting a number of tweets praising the country's "courageous decision".

What other multilateral engagements has the U.S turned it back on?

The exit marks the latest USA departure from multinational organizations and treaties after it pulled out of the Paris climate accord, the United Nations global compact on migration, the United Nations culture and education body UNESCO, as well as the Iran nuclear deal.

A boy holds up a sign at a Poor People's Campaign rally in Washington.

The Guardian says the USA is also unhappy about the existence of the permanent "agenda item 7", which is "exclusively devoted to the discussion of rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip".

She also repeatedly voted against United Nations proposals to investigate Israel's alleged use of excessive force in Gaza, criticizing the council over what she described as a "chronic anti-Israel bias".

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