John Bolton: Leaving the Human Rights Council was 'decades in the making'

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Added Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch: "All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel". Its decision "risks undermining the role of the a strong advocate and supporter of democracy on the world stage", she added.

She charged the United States with "stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the existence of serious human rights problems at home while at the same time trying to shape the council under its own interests".

"You put yourself on the side of Russian Federation and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Haley at the State Department, said there was no doubt that the council once had a "noble vision".

"All delegations attach great importance to this body", said Chinese ambassador to the Geneva, Yu Jianhua.

The announcement came after the top United Nations human rights official criticised Washington for separating migrant children from their parents who are seeking asylum after arrival from Mexico.

"This disproportionate focus and unending hostility towards Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights", Haley said. It added that the US criticism of the council for failing to make changes advocated by Washington appears "cynical". "Should it become reformed, we would be happy to rejoin it", Haley said.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the USA withdrawal, experts and diplomats have noted that without US pushback, resolutions approving investigations of Israel's conduct in the Occupied Palestinian Territories could multiply. "Israel welcomes the American announcement", Netanyahu said.

Since January 2017, it has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, left the United Nations educational and cultural organization and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Eighteen rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International wrote to United Nations member-states in May to express concern that a proposed USA draft resolution at the General Assembly could weaken the rights council.

The United Nations' Human Rights Council returned to business as usual Wednesday despite the USA pulling out a day earlier.

Now the Trump administration has formally sent notification of its decision, the U.N. General Assembly will organize elections for a replacement to assume the USA term through 2019.

Haley said the withdrawal "is not a retreat from our human rights commitments". Libya was kicked out seven years ago.

"The United States will not participate further in the June HRC sessions or further sessions and will not serve out the remainder of its term", the U.S. said. Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is visiting the Middle East this week as the White House works to lay the groundwork for unveiling the plan.

But the main USA objection was the council's Agenda Item 7, which mandates discussion of Israel at each of the three annual sessions. The United States is traditionally one of its largest donors.

Washington's withdrawal is the latest US rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The official wasn't authorized to comment publicly and insisted on anonymity.

"Look at the council membership and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic human rights". In recent months, the United States has participated in attempts to pinpoint rights violations in places like South Sudan, Congo and Cambodia.

The the first country to exit voluntarily in the council's 12-year history.

Asked about criticism of China's human rights record from the U.S., Shuang said the U.S. overlooked facts and noted that China had made significant progress on human rights, Reuters reported.

The Human Rights Council is a 47-country body that draws its mandate from the U.N. General Assembly, and meets three times a year in Geneva.

When the council was created in 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush's administration shunned the body.

Under President Barack Obama the United States was elected for a maximum of two consecutive terms on the council by the UN General Assembly.