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UN Human Rights Council back to work with US seats empty

The UN’s top rights body, based in Geneva, took up a discussion on summary executions and freedom of expression with the US seats unoccupied.

world Updated: Jun 20, 2018 16:54 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Associated Press, Geneva
UN Human Rights council,US,Geneva
Empty seats of the United States delegation are pictured one day after the US announced their withdraw during a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.(Reuters Photo)

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council returned to business as usual Wednesday despite the US pulling out a day earlier. Russia blasted the American move, calling it “boorish” and saying the US “inflicted a powerful blow to its human rights reputation.”

The UN’s top rights body, based in Geneva, took up a discussion on summary executions and freedom of expression with the US seats unoccupied Wednesday. The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, announced the pullout Tuesday, criticizing the council for “its chronic bias against Israel” and pointing out that it includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela and Congo.

In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized what she described as Washington’s “boorish cynicism in stubbornly refusing to recognize its own human rights problems while trying to tailor the council to its political interests.”

She told a briefing that Washington “demonstrated disregard not only to the council but to the entire UN and its institutions.”

Russia’s UN mission said in a statement that the US exit from the Council reflected Washington’s unilateralist approach to global affairs. The Russian mission described the body as a “key international platform for cooperation in protecting human rights.”

One Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the US was notably absent from an informal back room meeting in Belarus that it might normally have attended.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 16:54 IST