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United States Withdraws From UN Human Rights Council

U.S. -- NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks a UN Security Council meeting concerning the violence at the border of Israel and the Gaza Strip, at United Nations headquarters, May 15, 2018 in New York City. 58 peo

The United States said it was withdrawing from the United Nations' Human Rights Council, citing what it said was persistent bias against Israel and a need for reform.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on June 19 that the council counts among its members what she called "persistent human rights offenders" like China and the Democratic Republic of Congo while failing to condemn others like Venezuela and Cuba.

"We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights," she said.

She said the council regularly seeks to pass measures that she called "anti-Israel." U.S. officials have long complained that the council focuses too much on Israel while ignoring rights violations in other countries.

Washington has sought to reform the body, but Haley said those efforts did not succeed.

Washington refused to join the council when it was first created in 2006 during the presidency of George W. Bush.

His successor, Barack Obama, opted to join in 2009. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the U.S. move as "courageous" while UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein called it "disappointing, if not really surprising."

Based on reporting by AP and AFP