USA to withdraw from United Nations human rights body

Jared Kushner and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu

The United States is facing intense criticism for detaining children separated from their immigrant parents at the U.S. -Mexico border.

During an address to the body in Geneva a year ago, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned the US would pull out of the council without substantial reforms.

According to Reuters, the withdrawal appeared to be "imminent" after diplomatic sources said it was not a question of if but of when the United States retreats from the council.

Washington's withdrawal would be the latest US rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. No country has ever dropped out voluntarily.

The move could reinforce the perception that the Trump administration is seeking to advance Israel's agenda on the world stage, just as it prepares to unveil its long-awaited peace plan despite Palestinian outrage over the embassy relocation.

On Monday, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced his country will, in the future, vote against any resolution considered under Agenda Item 7, which was enacted in 2007 and makes Israel's actions - particularly as it pertains to the Palestinian occupation - a permanent, recurring debate among HRC member states. It was not immediately clear if the USA would remain a non-voting observer on the council.

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The United States is midway through a three-year term on the council, whose goal is to denounce and investigate human rights abuses. Members serve for three-year terms and can only serve two terms in a row.

"If it fails to change", Haley continued, "then we must pursue the advancement of human rights outside of the council".

There are 47 countries in the Human Rights Council, elected by the U.N.'s General Assembly with a specific number of seats allocated for each region of the globe. Item 7 on "Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories" has been part of the council's regular business nearly as long as it has existed. The Obama administration sought a seat only in 2009 in an effort to showcase how human rights were an important aspect of US foreign policy.

The council's current membership includes 14 countries that are ranked as "not free" by Freedom House: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, China, Cuba, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Mr. Johnson's call for reform within the UNHRC came on the same day it was revealed the U.S.is ready to leave the organization altogether.

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