The Latest: EU says it’s committed to Human Rights Council

FILE - This is a Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2008 file photo, showing a general view of the Human Rights Room (Room XX) at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Diplomats say the United States is about to quit the United Nation’s main human rights body, primarily over Washington’s claim that the Human Rights Council is biased against Israel. The move would be the Trump administration’s latest snub of the international community. The U.S. State Department said Friday, June 15, 2018 no decision has been made to leave. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations’ main human rights body (all times EDT):

6:35 p.m.

The European Union says the Trump administration’s decision to pull the United States out of the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council “risks undermining the role of the U.S. as a champion and supporter of democracy on the world stage.”

EU spokeswoman Maia Kocijancic says the 28-member bloc remains “steadfastly and reliably committed” to the 47-country Geneva body.

The EU says the United States has “always been at the forefront” of protection of human rights and has been a “strong partner” of the bloc at the council.

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It says it shares the aim to make the council “more efficient,” noting this year’s 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration was championed in part by former U.S. first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

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6:15 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office is praising the “courageous” decision by the Trump administration to pull out of the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council.

The statement came minutes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the U.S. withdrawal from the 47-member Geneva body.

Echoing U.S. criticisms, the statement from Netanyahu’s office said the council “has proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights.”

Israel has been the subject of more council resolutions than any other country in the world by far, and it is the only country to have its rights record examined at every session of the council, which meets three times each year.

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5:55 p.m.

The president of the U.N. Human Rights Council is acknowledging the “prerogative” of the United States to leave the 47-member body, while the U.N. human rights chief called it “disappointing, if not really surprising,” that the U.S. was pulling out.

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Vojislav Suc of Slovenia, who holds the council annually rotating presidency, defended the council on Tuesday after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced the United States is quitting the Geneva body.

The council opened its second of three annual sessions on Monday.

On Twitter, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein — the U.N. human rights chief — said it was “Disappointing, if not really surprising, news. Given the state of #HumanRights in today’s world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back.”

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5:10 p.m.

Ambassador Nikki Haley says the United States is withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, calling it “an organization that is not worthy of its name.”

Haley is President Donald Trump’s envoy to the United Nations. She says a year ago she made clear the U.S. would stay in the council only if “essential reforms were achieved.” She says it’s clear those calls for change were not heeded.

Haley is decrying the membership of countries like China, Cuba and Venezuela that are themselves accused of rights violations. She says the council also has a “chronic bias against Israel.”

But Haley says that if the council does reform, the United States “would be happy to rejoin.”

Haley is announcing the withdrawal at the State Department alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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1:35 p.m.

The Trump administration is set to announce Tuesday its departure from the United Nations’ main human rights body in its latest withdrawal from an international institution.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will deliver the verdict on the U.N. Human Rights Council in a joint appearance at the State Department, according to four officials familiar with the matter.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly preview the decision, the specifics of which are to be laid out by Haley.

Haley threatened the pull-out last year, citing longstanding U.S. complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel.

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