US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley called it “an organisation that is not worthy of its name”, marking the latest withdrawal by the Trump administration from an international institution.
Ms Haley said the US had given the human rights body “opportunity after opportunity” to make changes.
She lambasted the council for “its chronic bias against Israel” and lamented the fact that its membership includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights,” Ms Haley said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Ms Haley at the State Department, said there was no doubt that the council once had a “noble vision”.
“But today we need to be honest,” Mr Pompeo said. “The Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights.”
The announcement came just a day after the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents.
But Ms Haley, cited longstanding US complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel.
She had been threatening the pullout since last year unless the council made changes advocated by the US
“Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded,” Ms Haley said.
Still, she suggested the decision need not be permanent, adding that if the council did adopt reforms, “we would be happy to rejoin it.”
She said the withdrawal notwithstanding, the US would continue to defend human rights at the UN.
The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from international agreements and forums under the president’s “America First” policy.
Although numerous officials have said repeatedly that “America First does not mean America Alone,” the administration has retreated from multiple multilateral accords and consensuses since it took office.
Human rights groups have condemned the pullout, saying it will “make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world”.
Likewise many people on social media have drawn a comparison to the President’s disturbing immigration policy, which sees young children separated from their parents.
Trump adviser Stephen Miller told the New York Times: “All day long the American people are going to side with the party that wants to secure the border. And not by a little bit. Not 55-45. 60-40. 70-30. 80-20. I’m talking 90-10 on that.”
~The News Cable