Nikki Haley has message for ‘corrupt' UN rights body

Associated Press - GENEVA (AP) — Weeks after becoming U.S. President Donald Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley described the U.N.'s Human Rights Council as "so corrupt." Expect some sparks to fly, then, when she addresses that body for the first time.

En route to the Middle East, Haley drops in Tuesday at the meeting in Geneva to deliver a speech and take part in a "side event" focusing on rights in Venezuela. Her one-day appearance is shaping up as perhaps the standout event of the council's three-week session because the U.S. has a reputation as a key human-rights defender and is the single largest donor to the United Nations.

Her boss, however, has shaken up that image and raised doubts about America's global commitments.

Trump is seeking deep cuts in U.S. funding for international organizations like the U.N. and the council. On Thursday, he announced the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, denting Washington's moral capital. Last month in Riyadh, he announced hundreds of billions of dollars in arms sales over 10 years to Saudi Arabia, which is leading a military campaign in neighboring Yemen that has killed hundreds of civilians.

Despite criticism of the kingdom on issues like women's rights and quelling of political dissent, Trump insisted: "We are not here to lecture."

Haley, on the other hand, will most certainly be in Geneva to lecture.

Laying out her tack in an opinion piece Friday in The Washington Post, Haley said the council must "end its practice of wrongly singling out Israel for criticism." She said "the presence of multiple human rights-violating countries ... has damaged both the reputation of the council and the cause of human rights." She called for "competitive voting to keep the worst human rights abusers from obtaining seats."

"I will outline changes that must be made," Haley wrote. "When the world's pre-eminent human rights body is turned into a haven for dictators, the idea of international cooperation in support of human dignity is discredited."

The council now counts among its 47 members Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, all of which have spotty rights records but won seats through its arcane system of regional blocs.

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