Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned this week that President Donald Trump’s administration wants the U.N. Human Rights Council to undergo “considerable reform in order for us to continue to participate,” according to a report published Tuesday.
“While it may be the only such organization devoted to human rights, the Human Rights Council requires considerable reform in order for us to continue to participate,” Tillerson wrote in a letter to nine U.N. advocates and human rights groups obtained by Foreign Policy.
According to Foreign Policy, Tillerson said that the United States “continues to evaluate” the council’s effectiveness, but is skeptical of the human rights records of other member states, including Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt.
“We may not share a common view on this, given the makeup of the membership,” he wrote, as quoted in the report.
Per Foreign Policy, Tillerson said that the United States will continue to participate in the council’s current session in order to “reiterate our strong principled objection to the Human Rights Council’s biased agenda against Israel.”
The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s requests for comment.
A State Department spokeswoman directed TPM to comments made by a department spokesman during Tuesday’s press briefing.
State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner told reporters that he did not want “to speak or address specifics of any correspondence” between Tillerson and the nonprofits mentioned in the report.
“It’s fair to say we’re having discussions about — and that’s internal discussions, meaning within the State Department, but also with some of our partners — about how to increase transparency and accountability in human rights,” Toner said.
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