Nikki Haley arrives in Israel for three-day visit

At a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, Haley said the United States was "looking carefully" its participation in the council and she lambasted it for allowing countries involved in human rights abuses to remain members while maintaining what she called "chronic anti-Israel bias".

The head of Human Rights Watch's Geneva office, John Fisher, agreed that a reformed membership process would make the rights council stronger.

But Haley used her speech, the first by an American UN ambassador to the Geneva-based council since its creation in 2006, to put the body on notice.

The 47-member forum adopted five "biased" resolutions on Israel and the Palestinian territory at its March session, but never even considered a resolution on Venezuela, she said.

In an op-ed ahead of her address, Haley accused the council of "whitewash [ing] brutality" committed by its own members, citing as prime examples Venezuela-"whose government shoots protesters in the street", she wrote-and Cuba-"whose government imprisons thousands of political opponents".

The US is expected to announce intentions to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council this week.

In the first visit by a USA ambassador to the the 47-member council, Haley insisted that "the Maduro regime has purposefully starved and deliberately hurt its own people".

Ms Haley will make her inaugural trip to Israel as United Nations ambassador next week, as the country marks the 50th anniversary of its improbable victory in the Six Day War of 1967.

"Yet such a calculation means that a single issue would hijack the full range of USA human rights initiatives at the council".

Jorge Valero, the Venezuelan ambassador, later told the Council, "This (U.S.) government has no moral authority to set itself up as a universal judge of human rights". She also threatened USA withdrawal if it failed to rid itself of abusive regimes.

Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, will appear on Sunday's CNN "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper, talking about the effects of US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. "The Obama administration had a different approach - joining and sending Ambassador Eileen Donahoe to try to reform it from within".

"And so he's very aware that I'm outspoken on human rights, and he's very aware I'm outspoken on the need for humanitarian assistance, and he's been supportive of that", she added.

"No, I'm not going to commit today on whether we are staying in or out of the Human Rights Council".

Valero says the US government "does not have the moral authority to credit itself as the universal judge in terms of human rights".

"What we want to do is say is we are a sovereign country".

  • Joanne Flowers