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The President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has expressed shock in receiving a letter from the US Ambassador to the UN.

The IHEU was a joint signatory to a letter sent by 15 advocacy groups at the UN Human Rights Council on 13 June 2018. The letter expressed concern at moves by the US Government to reduce the role for civil society organisations through a process of ‘efficiency savings’.

Following just hours after the announcement yesterday that the United States would be withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, IHEU received a letter from the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.

In her letter, Haley accuses IHEU of trying to “undermine [the US’] attempts to improve the Human Rights Council.” She goes on to say “You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue.”

Commenting on the letter, Andrew Copson, the President of IHEU, said:

“We are appalled at this bizarre rant from the United States Ambassador. It betrays a deep and profound ignorance of the work of the IHEU, and humanists around the world, to suggest that we would support the autocratic regimes of China and Russia. Much of our work at the UN is in exposing and opposing those states’ human rights abuses.

“We will continue our vital work to protect and promote human rights around the world. We are sorry to have lost an important partner in the United States but now the world can see how fragile individual states’ support for human rights can be. This in turn illustrates the importance of the international human rights system for us all. We hope that – in happier and more civilised political days to come, the United States will reflect on its decision and agree to return to once again work with us and others to improve the imperfect human rights institutions which are the best hope for humanity.”


Read the NGOs’ original joint statement (PDF) (13 June 2018)

Read the US Ambassador to the UN’s reply to the IHEU (PDF) (20 June 2018)
(Note: identical messages were also sent to other NGOs who signed the joint statement)

Read the NGOs’ joint open letter in reply to the Ambassador (PDF) (22 June 2018)


This article was updated 25 June 2018 to include the download link for the NGOs’ original statement (dated 13 June) and the NGOs’ open letter in reply to Nikki Haley (dated 22 June).

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12 Responses to Humanists shocked to receive ‘bizarre rant’ from United States

  1. I have never seen civil society, or UNICEF or UNESCO, raise their voice about the use of minors by political parties in Bangladesh to perform acts of violence against the ruling party. It has been 28 years since our ‘democratic’ transition and every year student politicians are routinely murdered by other student politicians, usually in their own group, because of lucrative crimes such as (usually) extortion or drug peddling. 58 student politicians were murdered in 2016, 39 last year and 28 so far this year. If a dictatorial regime had carried out these killings, all hell would have broken loose. Why the silence?

  2. Wow! This means that the United States Ambassador to the United Nations considers us to be a force to be reckoned with.

    Congratulations are in order for the work of Elizabeth O’Casey, John A Wagner, Margaretha Jones, and the other hard working people of the International Humanist and Ethical Union for being such effective advocates for the cause of human decency.

    Nikki Haley, like the Administration and its supporters, may be trying to force us all to move into the air-castles in the sky that they haven’t even planed beyond a napkin drawing. But they are very sane in knowing that the IHEU stands in their way.

  3. Richard Harris says:

    What was the key human rights issue that was on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States?

    • IHEU Admin says:

      There was no disagreement about a “human rights issue”. As you can see in the original statement (PDF linked above) the civil society orgs were responding on specific proposals about the the Council’s institutional framework.

  4. Heidi Johnson says:

    Perhaps this is the first volley in an effort to make us “other” like the infestation of migrants or the Fake News. To misquote the famous poem “First they came for the humanists…”.

    • IHEU Admin says:

      That’s going a bit far! And note that it was not only IHEU but all NGOs who co-signed the statement who received letters from Haley. However, it would be correct to say we were shocked – as you can tell from the tone of this article – at the language in Haley’s letter: the insinuations and the extraordinary apportion of blame. It was well outside the bounds of normal communication from member state representatives to civil society organizations.

  5. Kimberly Dunne says:

    The worlds is upside down.

    Would it be possible to see the full transcript of all three correspondent pieces to this story please.

    *The original IHEU letter in full
    *The UN Ambassador letter in full
    *The IHEU response – in full

  6. Angela Cureton says:

    Their ignorance is of no surprise to me. They are so ignorant, they believe they are brilliant.

  7. Patrick Clare says:

    “Following just hours after the announcement yesterday that the United States would be withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, IHEU received a letter from the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.”

    If this letter was received on 13 June 2018 or the next day, how could it be the same as “the US Ambassador to the UN’s reply to the IHEU (PDF) (20 June 2018),” the only U.S. document for which a link is provided at the end of the article?

    • IHEU Admin says:

      It’s the earlier statement sent by the NGO group that was sent on 13 June, not the letter from the US Ambassador. The letter from the Ambassador was sent as stated on 20 June. This was the same day as the news was breaking everywhere about the US withdrawal. Hence: it was attached to an email we received “just hours after the announcement”.

  8. John says:

    The current US administration is a complete joke – and Haley is the biggest joke of all.
    The world is just going to have to wait until some more rational administration replaces the current one.
    This administration, comprised of Trump, Pence, Bolton, Haley and others of similar ilk, are enemies of reason.
    Their legacy will be division and hatred for years to come.
    To use a US expression, all we can do is ‘hunker down’ and wait for them to eventually leave.
    This does not mean the next administration will necessarily be any better.
    All we can do is hope that it will be.

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