TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Indonesia has deeply regretted the United States’ decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council is a forum for multilateral cooperation and represents the international community’s commitment to uphold and promote the protection of human rights.
More importantly, based on a statement from Indonesian Foreign Ministry here on Wednesday, the Human Rights Council is also a beacon of hope for vulnerable communities around the world as a place to raise awareness for protection from various human rights abuses.
Indonesia recognizes that the work of the Council is not yet perfect; however, a reform process, such as that required by other UN bodies, namely the Security Council and the General Assembly of the UN, requires political commitment and a spirit of multilateral cooperation from UN members.
Indonesia, along with other countries in the world, will continue to contribute and work to uphold and promote the protection of human rights through multilateral cooperation in line with the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council, including by strengthening the work of the Human Rights Council.
Reuters earlier reported that the United States withdrew from a “hypocritical and self-serving” United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday over what it called chronic bias against Israel and a lack of reform, a move activists warned would make it even more difficult for the advancement of human rights globally.
Standing with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, slammed Russia, China, Cuba, and Egypt for thwarting US efforts to reform the council. She also criticized countries which shared US values and encouraged Washington to remain, but “were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo.”
Washington’s withdrawal is the latest rejection of multilateral engagement by US, after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“Look at the council membership, and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights,” Haley remarked, citing Venezuela, China, Cuba, and Democratic Republic of Congo. She did not mention Saudi Arabia, whose rights groups pushed to be suspended in 2016 over the killings of civilians in the Yemen war.
Among reforms that the United States had pushed for was to make it easier to kick out member states with egregious rights records. Currently, a two-thirds majority vote by the 193-member UN General Assembly is needed to suspend a member state.
Haley also revealed that the “disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias and not by human rights.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the US decision.