Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley are expected to announce that the U.S. will leave the 47-member council at a State Department press briefing Tuesday afternoon, according to Bloomberg News.
The PMO said that "Israel thanks President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Haley for their courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council". In a speech to the council past year, [current U.N. Ambassador Nikki] Haley called out the body for what she said was its "relentless, pathological campaign" against Israel. She said it's clear those calls for change were not heeded.
"Look at the council membership, and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights", said Haley, citing the China, Venezuela, Cuba and Democratic Republic of Congo as members with poor human rights records.
National Security Adviser John Bolton opposed the group's creation when he was US ambassador to the United Nations in 2006, under former President George W. Bush. "We thank President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador Nikki Haley for their leadership, and call on the moral majority at the United Nations to hold all of its institutions accountable".
But the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank close to the Trump administration, defended the move, calling the council 'notably incurious about the human rights situations in some of the world's most oppressive countries'.
It also comes as the United States faces intense criticism for detaining children separated from their immigrant parents at the US-Mexico border.
Among reforms the United States had pushed for was to make it easier to kick out member states with egregious rights records.
Haley has been the driving force behind withdrawing from the human rights body, which would be unprecedented in the 12-year history of the council. It had an obsession with Israel to the exclusion of nearly all other issues, especially those involving the countries that formed the commission. Because of our seat at the table, we've been able to give voice to the voiceless around the world while fighting for the council's fair treatment of our allies like Israel.
Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Washington should be increasing its engagement in the fight against human rights violations, rather than retreating. "The world's most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny".
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.
"Unfree countries don't want the council to be effective - a credible Human Rights Council poses a threat to them and so they oppose it", Haley said.
A pullout could be largely symbolic: The United States' current term on the council ends next year, when it could have reverted to the observer status held by other countries that are not members, allowing it to speak out on rights abuses, but not to vote.
Barack Obama made a decision to have the United States rejoin the new UNHRC shortly after taking office.
"The US's absence will only compound the council's weaknesses", they wrote.