International reaction to the United States decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council continued on Wednesday.
Vojislav Šuc, the President of the Geneva-based Council, confirmed that the election of a new Member State would take place “as soon as possible” to fill the vacant seat.
The development follows an announcement on Tuesday by Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, that the US was pulling out after repeated warnings during the past year that the Council was allegedly biased against Israel and in need of major reform.
Speaking hours after the US move, Vojislav Šuc said that the poll would take place once US “notification of withdrawal is formally received”.
Members are elected by majority vote at the UN General Assembly in New York and Mr. Šuc told the 47-State body in Geneva that he intended to “be in touch” with its President, Miroslav Lajčák, about choosing a replacement to complete the unfinished US term.
Also reacting to the US decision, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein described it as “disappointing, if not really surprising”.
The US should be “stepping up, not stepping back” given the state of human rights today, the UN High Commissioner said, echoing comments by UN Secretary-General António Guterres that he would have “much preferred” the US to remain.
At the start of the Council’s thirty-eighth session on Monday — which is also Zeid’s last session before his mandate ends — he defended multilateralism and rounded on the rise of what he described as “chauvinistic nationalism” as the greatest threat to the world.