(PRESS RELEASE) On Tuesday Nikki Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke in Geneva, Switzerland, before the Human Rights Council—the principal body at the U.N. that promotes and protects human rights for all—where she declared that the United States is committed to supporting universal human rights and “will act to protect and extend them.”
Ambassador Haley’s remarks contradicted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s articulation of an “America First” foreign policy that prioritizes self-interest over values such as human rights and the promotion of freedom. In an address to State Department diplomats, Tillerson stated that “it is really important that all of us understand the difference between policy and values.”
Ambassador Haley’s call to protect universal human rights was also undercut by recent Trump administration decisions to reinstate and expand the Global Gag Rule and defund life-saving work by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as well as its proposal to eliminate U.S. support for international family planning—an essential intervention to promote women’s health and equality around the world.
Said Rebecca Brown, Director of Global Advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Ambassador Nikki Haley described a United States that is a leader in defending human rights. It’s time for the Trump Administration to start living those values.
“Universal human rights for everyone must be a U.S. priority and that includes respecting fundamental reproductive rights.”
The Human Rights Council has been instrumental in the passage of resolutions to address maternal health, discrimination against women, and child, early, and forced marriage. The Council holds member states accountable for their human rights record and addresses human rights violations.
Ambassador Nikki Haley is the first U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations to address the Human Rights Council.
The United States government was involved in the creation of UNPFA in 1969. In 2016 alone, U.S. support allowed UNFPA to provide 800,000 people worldwide with contraception and averted almost 100,000 unsafe abortions. Without U.S. support, UNFPA programs that protect the health and lives of women, girls and young people in more than 155 countries will inevitably be scaled back.