Taking Action on the United Nations in 2017-


President Donald Trump
  • May 29, 2020: Remarks by President Trump: "Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities. Countless lives have been taken, and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe... China has total control over the World Health Organization, despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year. We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engage with them directly, but they have refused to act. Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving, urgent, global public health needs."
  • September 25, 2018: Remarks by President Trump to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly: "As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interest. I spoke before this body last year and warned that the U.N. Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. Our Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken. So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council, and we will not return until real reform is enacted. For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support in recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America's sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy... The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget. This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden. And we are working to shift more of our funding from assessed contributions to voluntary so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success."
  • June 21, 2018: White House Fact Sheet: "President Donald J. Trump and his Administration have taken a stand for human rights and withdrawn from the United Nations' Human Rights Council (HRC). • The Trump Administration has announced the United States' withdrawal, effective immediately. • The President's decision comes following a year of tireless commitment to reform at the United Nations. • The Administration believes that withdrawal from the HRC will cast a spotlight on the urgent need for structural reform. FAILING TO FULFILL ITS PURPOSE: The HRC has failed to live up to its purpose, serving as a shield for human rights violators and a megaphone for unfair bias against Israel. • Countries with poor human rights records are routinely elected to the HRC, and use it to shield themselves from criticism and impede efforts to address their terrible records. • The HRC includes elected members such as Venezuela, Cuba, Burundi, China, and the Democratic Republic of Congo-countries that have been called out for their continual human rights violations and abuses. • The Trump Administration has been clear about the Council's persistent, unfair bias against Israel. • The HRC has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than it has condemning Syria, Iran, and North Korea combined. A CALL FOR REFORM: The Trump Administration continues to call on the HRC and the broader United Nations for reform..."
  • September 19, 2017: Statement by President Trump at the General Debate of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly: "Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process. In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution's noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council. The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden... The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world. In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially..."
  • September 18, 2017: Remarks by President Trump while hosting a meeting at United Nations headquarters on Reforming the United Nations: Management, Security, and Development: "The United Nations was founded on truly noble goals... Yet in recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement. While the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent, and its staff has more than doubled since 2000, we are not seeing the results in line with this investment... We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistle-blowers and focus on results rather than on process. To honor the people of our nations, we must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, and that's militarily or financially."
  • April 24, 2017: Remarks by President Trump at a Working Lunch with U.N. Security Council Ambassadors: "For the United Nations to play an effective role in solving these and other security challenges, big reforms will be required. In addition, we must also take a close look at the U.N. budget. Costs have been -- absolutely gone out of control...The United States, just one of 193 countries in the U.N., pays for 22 percent of the budget and almost 30 percent of the United Nations peacekeeping, which is unfair. We need the member states to come together to eliminate inefficiency and bloat, and to ensure that no one nation shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden militarily or financially. This is only fair to our taxpayers."
  • February 15, 2017: President Trump: "America and Israel are two nations that cherish the value of all human life. This is one more reason why I reject unfair and one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations – which has treated Israel, in my opinion, very, very unfairly – or other international forums as well as boycotts that target Israel."
  • December 28, 2016: President-elect Trump: "The UN has such tremendous potential. Not living up to its potential. There is such tremendous potential, but it is not living up. When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don't. They cause problems. So if it lives up to the potential it's a great thing. And if it doesn't it's a waste of time and money."
  • December 23, 2016: President-elect Trump: "As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations. This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis... As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th."
Vice President Mike Pence
  • March 2, 2020: Remarks at the 2020 AIPAC conference: "This President also promised that America would no longer allow the United Nations to be a forum for invective against Israel. And this President delivered when he withdrew the United States from the so-called Human Rights Council at the U.N. and ended all U.S. contributions to UNRWA."
  • November 23, 2018: "This President also promised to confront anti-Semitism on the world stage. And this summer, he directed our ambassador at the United Nations to withdraw the United States from the so-called Human Rights Council at the United Nations. We will no longer allow the U.N. to be a forum for invective against Israel."
  • November 28, 2017: "More than 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy warned that the United Nations must never be allowed to become, in his words, a 'forum for invective.' But today, sadly, with regard to Israel, too often it's become exactly that -- a forum for invective in the form of anti-Semitism and hatred. But with the leadership of our President and the efforts of our Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, the days of Israel-bashing at the United Nations are over. Within the Human Rights Council and across the United Nations, Ambassador Haley has advanced reforms to put an end to the blatant bias and discrimination that was too often the reality in the recent past at the U.N."
  • October 25, 2017: "The last administration devoted well over a billion dollars in humanitarian aid to the Middle East, but routed the lion's share through programs run by the United Nations. Yet the United Nations has too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities. The result has been that countless people continue to suffer and struggle needlessly... Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly. And tonight, it is my privilege to announce that President Trump has ordered the State Department to stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations. And from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID."
  • September 20, 2017: "As President Trump said yesterday in his historic address to this General Assembly, just as each of you, in his words, 'should always put your country first, we will always put America first.' But as his words and I hope our presence here attest, America First does not mean America alone. As the President said, we 'will forever be a great friend to the world.' And it's because of that commitment that he sent me here today to this Security Counsel, to reiterate our call for fundamental reforms of U.N. peacekeeping and our determination to see this institution do even more to keep the peace across the wider world. President Trump and I firmly believe that the U.N. must act to make its peacekeeping operations more efficient, more effective, more accountable, and more credible...The United Nations is bound by its charter to foster 'International cooperation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all.' That was the purpose under which the U.N. Human Rights Council was formed. But the truth is, the Human Rights Council doesn't deserve its name. As we look at the membership of the council today, we see nations that betray these timeless principles upon which this institution was founded. Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council actually attracts and welcomes many of the worst human rights violators in the world. A clear majority of the Human Rights Council's members fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards. Cuba sits on the Human Rights Council, an oppressive regime that has repressed its people and jailed political opponents for more than half a century. Venezuela sits on the Human Rights Council, a dictatorship that undermines democracy at every turn, imprisons political opponents, and as we speak is advancing policies that worsen deprivation and poverty that's costing the lives of innocent men, women, and children. This body must reform the Human Rights Council's membership and its operation. As to its operation, I think of what President John F. Kennedy warned more than 50 years ago, that the United Nations must not become in his words a 'forum for invective.' Unfortunately, today, the Human Rights Council has become exactly that, and particularly the Human Rights Council has become a forum for anti-Semitism and invective against Israel. The council's agenda item seven actually singles out Israel for discussion at every single meeting, something no other country must endure. As evidence, the Human Rights Council has passed more than 70 resolutions condemning Israel, while largely ignoring the world's worst human rights abusers. It is, as President Trump said yesterday, 'a massive source of embarrassment.' And we call on the Security Council and this entire body to immediately embrace reforms of the membership and practices of the Human Rights Council and end the Human Rights Council's blatant bias against our cherished ally Israel."
  • February 16, 2017: "Vice President Mike Pence hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for breakfast at the Vice President's Residence at the Naval Observatory... They...agreed to work together against one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations and other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel..."
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • June 20, 2020: Statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo On the Hypocrisy of UN Human Rights Council: "The United Nations Human Rights Council, now comprised of Venezuela and recently, Cuba and China, has long been and remains a haven for dictators and democracies that indulge them. It is a grave disappointment to those genuinely seeking to advance human dignity. Even so, the Council's decision to vote yesterday on a resolution focusing on policing and race in the United States marks a new low...Unfortunately, the Council has once again reaffirmed the wisdom of our decision to withdraw in 2018. If the Council were serious about protecting human rights, there are plenty of legitimate needs for its attention, such as the systemic racial disparities in places like Cuba, China, and Iran. If the Council were honest, it would recognize the strengths of American democracy and urge authoritarian regimes around the world to model American democracy and to hold their nations to the same high standards of accountability and transparency that we Americans apply to ourselves."
  • March 6, 2020: Meeting of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: "Secretary Pompeo also reiterated his outrage at the decision by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to publish a database of companies operating in Israeli-controlled territories. The Secretary made clear that the United States will continue to engage UN officials and member states on this matter, will not tolerate the reckless mistreatment of U.S. companies, and will respond to actions harmful to our business community."
  • March 2, 2020: Statement at 2020 AIPAC conference: "The UN's so-called Human Rights Council, and the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet. For those of you who are watching, the council recently released a database of companies doing business in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. That release from the United Nations only serves to facilitate the BDS movement and delegitimize Israel. How sad. I remember reading it after its release. This is an organization that was set up to ensure that no people ever again faced horrors like the Jews faced during the Holocaust, and it is now anti-Semitic. This administration was right when President Trump asked us to leave an international institution that grossly betrays its most fundamental mandate..."
  • March 2, 2020: "As I made clear on February 13, we will stand up for our companies, and we will stand by our ally Israel. The United States will continue to engage UN officials and member states on this matter and take necessary steps to counter efforts related to the list. We are urging UN member states to join us in repudiating publication of the database and to oppose any expansion of the mandate. The State Department will monitor the reaction of the United Nations and member states closely and will firmly oppose any efforts to use this list against U.S. companies. As a follow-on measure to my February 13 announcement, specifically, U.S. companies referenced in the February 12 database are urged to take note of the following guidance by the Department of State: The United States Government continues to promote and support U.S. businesses abroad, including U.S. companies listed in the February 12, 2020, database. The United States Government denounces efforts by any states or international organizations to downgrade ties with U.S. companies as a result of being listed in the database. The United States Government continues to strongly encourage U.S. businesses to work with, trade with, and invest in Israel. The United States has not provided, and will never provide, any information to the Office of the High Commissioner to support compilation of this database. Neither the Human Rights Council nor the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has the power to dictate to U.S. companies where they can and cannot do business, and the United States views any effort to use the database for such purposes as baseless. In the event a U.S. company becomes the target of attempts to intimidate or harass it on the basis of inclusion in this database, the Department of State urges that U.S. company to: Contact the Department of State, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Office of Commercial and Business Affairs [USBusiness@state.gov] to communicate the substance and nature of such attempt, including, where appropriate, the U.S. company's intended response. This information is crucial to enabling the Department of State to examine the use of available legal and policy tools to counter such efforts against any U.S. companies. We share our companies' frustration with the decision to create and release this database. The United States will not tolerate the reckless mistreatment of U.S. companies, and will respond to actions harmful to our business community."
  • February 13, 2020: "I am outraged that High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet published a database of companies operating in Israeli-controlled territories. The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database, which was mandated by the discredited UN Human Rights Council in 2016. Its publication only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations. The United States has not provided, and will never provide, any information to the Office of the High Commissioner to support compilation of these lists and expresses support for U.S. companies referenced. We call upon all UN member states to join us in rejecting this effort, which facilitates the discriminatory boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) campaign and delegitimizes Israel."
  • December 4, 2018: "Today at the United Nations, peacekeeping missions drag on for decades, no closer to peace. The UN's climate-related treaties are viewed by some nations as simply a vehicle to redistribute wealth. Anti-Israel bias has been institutionalized. Regional powers collude to vote the likes of Cuba and Venezuela onto the Human Rights Council. The UN was founded as an organization that welcomed peace-loving nations. I ask: Today, does it continue to serve its mission faithfully?... As my remarks come to a close, I want to repeat what George Marshall told the UN General Assembly back near the time of its formation in 1948. He said, quote, 'International organizations cannot take the place of national and personal effort or of local and individual imagination; international action cannot replace self-help.'..."
  • June 19, 2018: "The Trump administration is committed to protecting and promoting the God-given dignity and freedom of every human being. Every individual has rights that are inherent and inviolable. They are given by God, and not by government. Because of that, no government must take them away. For decades, the United States has led global efforts to promote human rights, often through multilateral institutions. While we have seen improvements in certain human rights situations, for far too long we have waited while that progress comes too slowly or in some cases never comes. Too many commitments have gone unfulfilled. President Trump wants to move the ball forward. From day one, he has called out institutions or countries who say one thing and do another. And that's precisely the problem at the Human Rights Council. As President Trump said at the UN General Assembly: 'It is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the Human Rights Council.' We have no doubt that there was once a noble vision for this council. But today, we need to be honest – the Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights. Worse than that, the Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy – with many of the world's worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world's most serious offenders sitting on the council itself. The only thing worse than a council that does almost nothing to protect human rights is a council that covers for human rights abuses and is therefore an obstacle to progress and an impediment to change. The Human Rights Council enables abuses by absolving wrongdoers through silence and falsely condemning those who have committed no offense. A mere look around the world today demonstrates that the council has failed in its stated objectives. Its membership includes authoritarian governments with unambiguous and abhorrent human rights records, such as China, Cuba, and Venezuela. There is no fair or competitive election process, and countries have colluded with one another to undermine the current method of selecting members. And the council's continued and well-documented bias against Israel is unconscionable. Since its creation, the council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than against the rest of the world combined. The United States has no opposition in principle to multilateral bodies working to protect human rights. We desire to work with our allies and partners on this critical objective that reflects America's commitment to freedom. But when organizations undermine our national interests and our allies, we will not be complicit. When they seek to infringe on our national sovereignty, we will not be silent. The United States – which leads the world in humanitarian assistance, and whose service members have sacrificed life and limb to free millions from oppression and tyranny – will not take lectures form hypocritical bodies and institution as Americans selflessly give their blood and treasure to help the defenseless. Ambassador Haley has spent more than a year trying to reform the Human Rights Council. She is the right leader to drive our efforts in this regard at the United Nations. Her efforts in this regard have been tireless. She has asserted American leadership on everything from the Assad regime's chemical weapons use, to the pressure campaign against North Korea, and the Iran-backed provocations in the Middle East. Ambassador Haley has been fearless and a consistent voice on behalf of our ally Israel. And she has a sincere passion to protect the security, dignity, and the freedom of human beings around the world – all while putting American interests first. She has been a fierce defender of human rights around the world."
U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt
  • July 29, 2019: Tweet: "We're extremely concerned abt UNRWA allegations. We urge a full & transparent investigation by the UN. UNRWA's model is broken/unsustainable & based on an endless expanding # of beneficiaries. Palestinians residing in refugee camps deserve much better."
  • May 22, 2019: Remarks UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East: "I thank UNRWA Commissioner General Krδhenbόhl for his briefing today, and for his work over the years. But I'm afraid it is time for him and all of you to face the reality that the UNRWA model has failed the Palestinian people. UNRWA's business model, which is inherently tied to an endlessly and exponentially expanding community of beneficiaries, is in permanent crisis mode. That is why the United States decided that it will no longer commit to funding this irredeemably flawed operation... Since UNRWA's founding, the U.S. has donated $6 billion. Let me repeat that: $6 billion – vastly more than any other country. And yet year after year, UNRWA funding fell short. Year after year, budget shortfalls threatened essential services to Palestinian mothers and children. Year after year, UNRWA and other donors turned to the United States to make up the shortfall. And year after year, Palestinians in refugee camps were not given the opportunity to build any future; they were misled and used as political pawns and commodities instead of treated as human beings. UNRWA is currently running on fumes, surviving on a surge in foreign donations in 2018 that is unlikely to be sustained this year, or in the future. What happens when UNRWA's bank account is empty again? We need to be honest about the situation. UNRWA is a band-aid... We need to engage with host governments to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments, or to other international or local non-governmental organizations, as appropriate. The United States is ready to participate in that conversation. We tried to begin that conversation before we cut our aid to UNRWA. No one wanted to engage in that conversation back then. We remain ready to begin that conversation now. It is time to start. We do not advance a comprehensive and enduring peace by ignoring the reality that UNRWA is unable to fulfill the mandate given to it by the General Assembly."
Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley
  • August 28, 2018: Remarks while accepting the Jeane Kirkpatrick Award from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies: "I knew that there was a bias against Israel, but I hadn't really put a lot of the thought into it until I attended the first session. And when I saw literally how abusive all of those countries were being to Israel, in a way that was pathetic, really, I had no choice but to get up and say this is completely wrong... It's like that kid in the schoolyard who gets bullied and everyone's bullying that kid just because they think that makes them stronger. I wasn't going to stand for that."
  • July 23, 2018: Remarks at the Christians United for Israel Annual Summit: "The UN can ... be an enormously frustrating and bizarre place. Nowhere is that more pronounced than in the truly awful way the UN has treated Israel for decades. Last September, when Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke at the UN, he said that for too long, the 'epicenter of global anti-Semitism was the UN itself.' That's an amazing statement. But unfortunately, it's true... From now on, every country knows that the United States will not just block anti-Israel measures, we will shine a light on those who are responsible. There won't be any more free passes for those who bully Israel at the UN... A little more than a year ago, I went to Geneva and told the Human Rights Council that we expected changes in order to justify America's continued participation. We said we needed to change the makeup of the Council membership to keep the worst human rights abusers off, and we needed to not just reform, but fully eliminate Agenda Item Seven. Dozens of countries told us they agreed with us. But they only told us that behind closed doors. They did not have the courage to call it out for what it was. Well, we do have that courage. After more than a year of efforts to change the Human Rights Council, we saw the writing on the wall, and the United States withdrew. Many friendly countries told us we should stay in the Human Rights Council because American participation was 'the last shred of credibility the Council had.' But that's exactly why we should not be there. America will always be the world's leader in advocating human rights. But we will not do that in a place that makes a mockery of the very human rights ideals it is supposed to uphold. That brings me to a larger point. The Nobel Peace Prize winner and leading documenter of the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel, said and wrote many profound things in his lifetime. One of those is the idea that 'neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.' And that 'silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.' I keep that in mind as I battle away at the United Nations. At the UN, some well-meaning countries are constantly in search of consensus. They frequently invoke the principle of neutrality. At times, there is virtue in working together with other countries to form consensus. But that principle can be taken too far, and it often is. The United States has no moral duty to be neutral between right and wrong. On the contrary, we have a moral duty to take sides, even when that means standing alone... Eighteen months ago, I was given the assignment to represent America in a place that relentlessly attacks Israel. And I was sent there at a time when America had turned its back on Israel. So it was my duty to defend Israel in what is often a dark place for one of America's best friends. I take that duty incredibly seriously and with great pride... In all that we're doing – whether it's the embassy decision, or UNESCO, or the Human Rights Council, or pushing for votes against Hamas, our approach on Israel is tied together by one major idea. The idea that runs through all of it is the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country. We demand that Israel not be treated like some sort of temporary provisional entity or pariah. It cannot be the case that only one country in the world doesn't get to choose its capital city. It cannot be the case that the Human Rights Council has a standing agenda item for only one country. It cannot be the case that only one set of refugees throughout the world is counted in a way that causes the number to grow literally forever. It cannot be the case that in an organization with 193 countries, the United Nations spends half of its time attacking only one country..."
  • July 18, 2018: Remarks to the Heritage Foundation regarding the U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council: "The United Nations was founded for a noble purpose – to promote peace and security based on justice, equal rights, and the self-determination of people. But it has many member nations whose leaders completely reject that purpose. When that happens, many well-meaning countries adopt a position of neutrality in the hope of coming to an agreement with these nations. They effectively allow dictatorships and authoritarian regimes to control the agenda. Resolutions get watered down until they are meaningless – or they become objectively anti-democratic. Moral clarity becomes a casualty of the need to placate tyrants, all in the name of building consensus. In such a situation it is imperative for the United States to use the power of our voice to defend our values. That's as true today as it was during the Cold War – maybe even more so. We are a special nation with a special message for the world. We are a country founded on human dignity; on the revolutionary idea that all men are created equal with rights including, but not limited to, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you take this truth seriously – as Ambassador Kirkpatrick did, as I do – it is non-negotiable. You don't sell out to appease those who deny it. And it's not a political chit to be traded for something of greater value. If you take it seriously, you use your voice. You fight for it, even if that means you fight alone. The United States was instrumental in creating the United Nations Human Rights Commission precisely because we believe in the inherent dignity of all women and men. It was meant to be, in the words of its first chairman, Eleanor Roosevelt, "a place of conscience." When it has served this function, the Human Rights Council, as it is now known, has provided a voice for the voiceless. It has brought the injustice suffered by political prisoners to international attention. It has put a spotlight on crimes committed by Syria's Assad and the Kim dictatorship in North Korea. But these have been the exceptions, not the rule. More often, the Human Rights Council has provided cover, not condemnation, for the world's most inhumane regimes. It has been a bully pulpit for human rights violators. And the Human Rights Council has been, not a place of conscience, but a place of politics. It has focused its attention unfairly and relentlessly on Israel. Meanwhile, it has ignored the misery inflicted by regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and China. Judged by how far it has fallen short of its promise, the Human Rights Council is the United Nations' greatest failure. It has taken the idea of human dignity – the idea that is at the center of our national creed and the birthright of every human being – and it has reduced it to just another instrument of international politics. And that is a great tragedy. I don't come to this conclusion happily, or lightly. The Obama Administration decided to join the supposedly "reformed" Human Rights Council in 2009. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed that the United States could improve the Council by working from the inside. By the time I became the U.S. Ambassador eight years later, it was clear that this strategy had failed. There are lots of problems with the Human Rights Council, but two stuck out for me when I came to the UN. The first was the Council's membership. When I arrived, and still today, its members included some of the worst human rights violators. The dictatorships of Cuba, China and Venezuela all have seats on the Council. Not only was Venezuela a member, but in 2015 the Council invited its dictator, Nicholas Maduro, to speak to a special assembly. He got a standing ovation, which was not surprising given that 62 percent of the Human Rights Council's members were not democracies. The other major sign that the United States' presence had failed to improve the Council was the continuing existence of the notorious Agenda Item Seven. This is the permanent part of the Human Rights Council agenda that is devoted exclusively to Israel. No other country – not Iran, not Syria, not North Korea – has an agenda item devoted solely to it. Agenda Item Seven is not directed at anything Israel does. It is directed at the very existence of Israel. It is a blazing red siren signaling the Human Rights Council's political corruption and moral bankruptcy. For these reasons and others, there were voices in Congress and elsewhere encouraging the Trump Administration to withdraw from the Human Rights Council immediately when we took office. We could have easily done that. But instead, we made a good-faith effort to see if we could fix the Council's problems. We engaged in a public campaign. President Trump called for changes to the Council in his speech before the UN General Assembly last fall, and we also worked relentlessly behind the scenes. We spent the year making the case for reform; meeting with more than 125 Member States and circulating drafts of reform resolutions. As the year progressed, our case for reform only grew stronger. In October, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was elected to a seat on the Council. The Congo is the setting for atrocities that shock the most hardened international aid workers. They were discovering mass graves in the Congo even as the General Assembly approved its bid to the Human Rights Council. In December and into this year, the Iranian people took to the streets in peaceful protest against their horrendous regime. The government responded with beatings, arrests, and killings. The Human Rights Council was silent. And throughout the year, Venezuela descended further and further into misery and dictatorship. But the Council didn't address the massive abuses in Venezuela for the reason I'm sure you've guessed by now: Venezuela sits on the Human Rights Council. In the end, the United States couldn't convince enough countries to stand up and declare that the Human Rights Council was no longer worthy of its name. Why this happened is telling. The first and most obvious reason is that authoritarian regimes are happy with the status quo. Many seek membership to protect their own and their allies' human rights records from scrutiny. Russia, China, Cuba, and Egypt – they all benefit from making a mockery of the Human Rights Council. So it's no surprise that they openly resisted our efforts to reform it... On June 19th, Secretary Pompeo and I made an announcement that the United States was withdrawing from the Human Rights Council. Many of our friends urged us to stay for the sake of the institution. The United States, they said, provided the last shred of credibility the Council had. But that was precisely why we withdrew. The right to speak freely, to associate and worship freely; to determine your own future; to be equal before the law – these are sacred rights. We take these rights seriously – too seriously to allow them to be cheapened by an institution – especially one that calls itself the "Human Rights Council." No one should make the mistake of equating membership in the Human Rights Council with the support for human rights. To this day, the United States does more for human rights, both inside the UN and around the world, than any other country. And we will continue to do that. We just won't do it inside a Council that consistently fails the cause of human rights. We have already begun to make the case for human rights, and that it should be addressed in the UN Security Council in New York. Last year, during the U.S. presidency, we held the first ever Security Council session dedicated to the connection between human rights and peace and security. The fighting and instability that has spilled over the borders of countries like Syria and Burma began with extreme or massive violations of the human rights of the people of those countries. Human rights violators deserve our condemnation on their own terms, but they also often lead to conflicts which threaten the peace of an entire region. When we act to protect human rights, we act to prevent conflict. Just this month, we successfully fought back Russian and Chinese efforts to drastically reduce the number of UN peacekeepers dedicated to human rights protection and promotion. And the United States has taken the initiative to do what the Human Rights Council refused to do. Despite protests orchestrated by the Venezuelan government, the United States organized an event on Venezuela outside the Human Rights Council in Geneva. This January we had a Security Council session on human rights violations of the Iranian regime. And just last week the United States led a historic effort in the Security Council to impose an arms embargo and sanctions on the combatants in South Sudan, which has been the scene of enormous suffering and human rights abuses in the country's short life. And as I have said before, our withdrawal from the Human Rights Council does not mean that we give up our fight for reform. On the contrary, any country willing to work with us to reshape the Council need only ask. Fixing the institutional flaws of the Human Rights Council was, is, and will remain one of the biggest priorities at the UN..."
  • June 19, 2018: Announcing withdrawal of the United States from the U.N. Human Rights Council: "One year ago, I traveled to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. On that occasion, I outlined the U.S. priorities for advancing human rights and I declared our intent to remain a part of the Human Rights Council if essential reforms were achieved. These reforms were needed in order to make the council a serious advocate for human rights. For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias. Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded. Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council. The world's most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing and scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks. Therefore, as we said we would do a year ago if we did not see any progress, the United States is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council. In doing so, I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments; on the contrary, 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. We did not make this decision lightly. When this administration began 17 months ago, we were well aware of the enormous flaws in the Human Rights Council. We could have withdrawn immediately. We did not do that. Instead, we made a good-faith effort to resolve the problems. We met with ambassadors of over a dozen countries in Geneva. Last September, in President Trump's speech before the UN General Assembly, he called for member-states to support Human Rights Council reform. During High-Level Week last year, we led a session on Human Rights Council reform cohosted by the British and Dutch foreign ministers and more than 40 other countries. Our efforts continued all through this year in New York, where my team met with more than 125 member-states and circulated draft texts. Almost every country we met with agrees with us in principle and behind closed doors that the Human Rights Council needs major, dramatic, systemic changes, yet no other country has had the courage to join our fight. Meanwhile, the situation on the council has gotten worse, not better. One of our central goals was to prevent the world's worst human rights abusers from gaining Human Rights Council membership. What happened? In the past year, the Democratic Republic of Congo was elected as a member. The DRC is widely known to have one of the worst human rights records in the world. Even as it was being elected to membership in the Human Rights Council, mass graves continued to be discovered in the Congo. Another of our goals was to stop the council from protecting the world's worst human rights abusers. What happened? The council would not even have a meeting on the human rights conditions in Venezuela. Why? Because Venezuela is a member of the Human Rights Council, as is Cuba, as is China. Similarly, the council failed to respond in December and January when the Iranian regime killed and arrested hundreds of citizens simply for expressing their views. When a so-called Human Rights Council cannot bring itself to address the massive abuses in Venezuela and Iran, and it welcomes the Democratic Republic of Congo as a new member, the council ceases to be worthy of its name. Such a council, in fact, damages the cause of human rights. And then, of course, there is the matter of the chronic bias against Israel. Last year, the United States made it clear that we would not accept the continued existence of agenda item seven, which singles out Israel in a way that no other country is singled out. Earlier this year, as it has in previous years, the Human Rights Council passed five resolutions against Israel – more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined. This disproportionate focus and unending hostility towards Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights. For all these reasons, the United States spent the past year engaged in a sincere effort to reform the Human Rights Council. It is worth examining why our efforts didn't succeed. At its core, there are two reasons. First, there are many unfree countries that simply do not want the council to be effective. A credible human rights council poses a real threat to them, so they opposed the steps that would create it. Look at the council membership and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic human rights. These countries strongly resist any effort to expose their abusive practices. In fact, that's why many of them run for a seat on the Human Rights Council in the first place: to protect themselves from scrutiny. When we made it clear we would strongly pursue council reform, these countries came out of the woodwork to oppose it. Russia, China, Cuba, and Egypt all attempted to undermine our reform efforts this past year. The second reason our reforms didn't succeed is in some ways even more frustrating. There are several countries on the Human Rights Council who do share our values. Many of them strongly urged us to remain engaged in the council. They are embarrassed by the obsessive mistreatment of Israel. They share our alarm with the hypocrisy of countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, and others serving on the council. Ultimately, however, many of these likeminded countries were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo. We gave them opportunity after opportunity and many months of consultations, and yet they would not take a stand unless it was behind closed doors. Some even admittedly were fine with the blatant flaws of the council as long as they could pursue their own narrow agenda within the current structure. We didn't agree with such a moral compromise when the previous UN Human Rights Commission was disbanded in 2006, and we don't agree with it now. Many of these countries argued that the United States should stay on the Human Rights Council because American participation is the last shred of credibility that the council has. But that is precisely why we must leave. If the Human Rights Council is going to attack countries that uphold human rights and shield countries that abuse human rights, then America should not provide it with any credibility. Instead, we will continue to lead on human rights outside the misnamed Human Rights Council. Last year, during the United States presidency of the Security Council, we initiated the first ever Security Council session dedicated to the connection between human rights and peace and security. Despite protests and prohibitions, we did organize an event on Venezuela outside the Human Rights Council chambers in Geneva. And this past January, we did have a Security Council session on Iranian human rights in New York. I have traveled to the – to UN refugee and internally displaced persons camps in Ethiopia, Congo, Turkey, and Jordan, and met with the victims of atrocities in those troubled regions. We have used America's voice and vote to defend human rights at the UN every day, and we will continue to do so. Even as we end our membership in the Human Rights Council, we will keep trying to strengthen the entire framework of the UN engagement on human rights issues, and we will continue to strongly advocate for reform of the Human Rights Council. Should it become reformed, we would be happy to rejoin it. America has a proud legacy as a champion of human rights, a proud legacy as the world's largest provider of humanitarian aid, and a proud legacy of liberating oppressed people and defeating tyranny throughout the world. While we do not seek to impose the American system on anyone else, we do support the rights of all people to have freedoms bestowed on them by their creator. That is why we are withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, an organization that is not worthy of its name."
  • April 26, 2018: "The American people pay 22 percent of the UN budget - more than the next three highest donor countries combined. In spite of this generosity, the rest of the UN voted with us only 31 percent of the time, a lower rate than in 2016. That's because we care more about being right than popular and are once again standing up for our interests and values. Either way, this is not an acceptable return on our investment."
  • March 28, 2018: Statement during Security Council open debate on peacekeeping: "Resources are important for peacekeeping, of course. The United States has long been the largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping by far. That will not change, but peacekeeping is a shared responsibility. With shared responsibility comes shared burdens and shared costs. One country should not shoulder more than one quarter of the UN peacekeeping budget, and we look forward to a more equitable distribution of the budget among Member States. Moving forward, the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the peacekeeping budget. This is a cap required by U.S. law. We pledge to work with Member States and the organization to ensure we make this adjustment in a fair and sensible manner that protects UN peacekeeping. All of us have a role to play, and all of us must step up."
  • March 23, 2018: Press release: "'When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, it is the Council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name. It is time for the countries who know better to demand changes. Many countries agree that the Council's agenda is grossly biased against Israel, but too few are willing to fight it. When that happens, as it did today, the Council fails to fulfill its duty to uphold human rights around the world. The United States continues to evaluate our membership in the Human Rights Council. Our patience is not unlimited. Today's actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights,' said Ambassador Haley."
  • March 5, 2018: Remarks at 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference: " At the U.N. and throughout the U.N. agencies, Israel does get bullied. It gets bullied because the countries that don't like Israel are used to being able to get away with it... There are lots of ... things that we do, big and small, week after week, to fight back against the U.N.'s Israel bullying. Every month at the Security Council we have a session devoted to the Middle East, and every month this session becomes an Israel-bashing session. This has gone on month after month for decades. This was news to me when I arrived. It was actually shocking. I came out of the first session and publicly said if we want to talk about security in the Middle East, we should talk about Iran or Syria or Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS, the famine in Yemen. There are probably 10 major problems facing the Middle East and Israel doesn't have anything to do with any of them. Just about every month since then in the Middle East session I have spoken about something other than Israel. I can't say that we've solved the problem, but I can say that several other countries have followed our lead. What used to be a monthly Israel-bashing session, now at least has more balance, but we're never going to put up with bullying."