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Nikki Haley: How the outgoing UN ambassador handled 5 key moments during her tenure

Posted at 9:41 AM, Oct 09, 2018

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, submitted her resignation to President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning. She said during a press conference she will remain in the job until the end of the year.

As UN ambassador, Haley was on the front lines of diplomacy as President Trump made a number of momentous decisions on the world stage. Here's how she handled five key situations during her time as ambassador.

1. The United States leaves the Paris Climate Accord

In June of 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would be leaving the Paris Climate Accord, a landmark agreement among most of the world's nations in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and halt climate change. At the time, Trump called the agreement a "bad deal," and said he wanted to negotiate a new one to rejoin the agreement at some point in the future.

Haley stood by the President's decision, despite criticism from allies from around the world — all of whom remained in the deal.

In an interview with CNN, Haley said that she believed climate change was real (breaking with past statements from Trump), but said that the terms President Obama agreed to were "not achievable under out standards or any other country's standards."

2. US moves embassy to Jerusalem

In February, Trump announced the United States would move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, fulfilling a campaign promise but also ruffling feathers on the world stage.

While presidents for years have promised to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Trump was the first to do so by making the symbolic gesture to move its embassy. However, the announcement angered other Middle East nations that feel Israel receives preferential treatment from the United States.

The move triggered violence across the region. Haley defended Trump's decision, blaming the violence on Iran and Palestinian groups like Hamas.

3. U.S. leaves the Iran Nuclear Deal

In another move that caused controversy abroad, President Trump announced in May that the U.S. would leave a 2015 agreement with Iran that at the time, lifted sanctions against Iran in exchange that the country would stop its nuclear weapons program. Critics of the move pointed out that leaving the deal would allow Iran to immediately resume nuclear testing, despite perceived problems with the deal.

Haley always supported the President's decision to leave the deal. Months before Trump formally ended the agreement, Haley said Trump had "grounds to stand on" if he chose to terminate the deal. When asked if the decision would affect the United States' relationship with its allies, she said the decision would be about "national security, not European security."

4. Haley imposes sanctions on Russia — but the White House walks them back

Haley drew the ire of President Trump in April of 2018 when she announced that United States would impose new sanctions on Russia, claiming Russia had enabled Syria to use chemical weapons against its own people.

Haley made the announcement on Sunday morning news shows — shows that the President was reportedly watching at the time. Days later, the Trump administration walked back the sanctions, saying Haley's statement came at a time of "momentary confusion."

The White House's decision to walk back the sanctions fed into the narrative that Trump was friendly to Russia at a time when investigators were looking into Russian interference during the 2016 elections.

Haley later shot back at the Trump administration, telling CNN "With all due respect, I don't get confused." White House officials later apologized for their comments.

5. Haley pulls US out of UN Human Rights Council

In a stunning move, Haley announced in June 2018 that she was pulling the United States off the UN Human Rights Council, citing the questionable human rights records of a number of countries on the council, notably Venezuela, China, and Saudi Arabia. 

"If the Human Rights Council is going to be an organization we entrust to protect and promote human rights, it must change," Haley said prior to removing the US from the council, according to NPR. "If it fails to change, then we must pursue the advancement of human rights outside of the council."

Haley also claimed the council held a bias against Israel, a US ally.

It remains to be seen if the US' decision to leave the Council on Human Rights will spark the systemic change of the body, or if the vacuum of power left by the US' absence will allow human rights abusers to flourish. 

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.