The United Nations’ Human Rights Council returned to business as usual Wednesday despite the U.S. pulling out a day earlier. Russia blasted the American move, calling it “boorish” and saying the U.S. “inflicted a powerful blow to its human rights reputation.”
The U.N.’s top rights body, based in Geneva, took up a discussion on summary executions and freedom of expression with the U.S. seats unoccupied Wednesday. The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., 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 U.N. and its institutions.”
Russia’s U.N. mission said in a statement that the U.S. 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 U.S. was notably absent from an informal back room meeting in Belarus that it might normally have attended.