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  • U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

    U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 June 2018

The report revealed U.S. "citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies."

Days after the United States abandoned the United Nations Human Rights Council, its ambassador Nikki Haley criticized a report condemning entrenched poverty in the country and criticizing president Donald Trump’s economic policies.

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In May, the United Nations' special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston released a report showing the U.S. has the highest rates of infant mortality and income inequality among developed countries, as well as 40 million people living in poverty.

"The United States, one of the world's richest nations and the ‘land of opportunity,’ is fast becoming a champion of inequality," the report concluded.

Alston also accused President Trump of deepening poverty and inequality.

"The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment and to turn even basic healthcare into a privilege,” he wrote.

The report also blasted the administration’s US$1.5 trillion tax cuts.

On Thursday, shortly after the report was published, Senator Bernie Sanders asked Haley to respond to statistics showing more than 30 million Americans lack health insurance and 40 million are living in poverty.

Haley responded by attacking the report and the UNHRC for wasting money and shielding human rights abusers.  

“It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America… The special rapporteur wasted the U.N.’s time and resources, deflecting attention from the world’s worst human rights abusers and focusing instead on the wealthiest and freest country in the world,” Haley wrote in her letter to Sanders.

Sanders replied, stressing inequality. “I personally believe that it is totally appropriate for the U.N. Special Rapporteur to focus on poverty in the United States (where) wealth and income inequality are worse than at any time since the 1920s.”

Earlier this month, Sanders and 20 prominent members of Congress like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris called on Trump to work with them to tackle “massive levels of deprivation.” They argued with Alston’s conclusion that the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion tax cuts “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”

On Tuesday, Haley announced the U.S. was pulling out of the UNHRC, saying it is as a “cesspool of political bias.” In her announcement, Haley attacked the Council’s “excessive” focus on Israel; however, Alston fears the move “is part of a broader attack on human rights and multilateralism.”

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