Nikki Haley was widely praised for her powerful and thorough condemnation of Bashar al-Assad and his defenders at the United Nations this week — but one of her most powerful statements came in a quiet press release.
As U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Haley spent the week both condemning Assad’s crimes and defending the U.S. response to them. Friday’s emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council was called for by Bolivia, a nation that strongly opposed U.S. intervention in Syria.
Excoriating the U.S.’s recent actions, Bolivian Ambassador the the U.N. Sacha Llorenti gave an impassioned speech and declared, “This is an extremely, extremely serious violation of international law.” Now, it turns out he may have never wanted the public to see that speech.
As the current president of the United Nations Security Council, Ambassador Haley has the privilege of deciding which meetings are open to the public and which are closed — and she used that power in its full force on Friday.
In a statement released just before the meeting, Haley explained that Bolivia had requested the meeting be held behind closed doors. Haley denied that request, writing:
This morning, Bolivia requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the events in Syria. It asked for the discussion to be held in closed session. The United States, as president of the Council this month, decided the session would be held in the open.
Any country that chooses to defend the atrocities of the Syrian regime will have to do so in full public view, for all the world to hear.
Haley’s harsh and public rebuke of Bolivia’s request echoes the strong criticism she levied against Assad and the Syrian regime during Friday’s security council meeting.
As she left Friday’s meeting, reporters confronted Ambassador Haley, seeking a comment about the day’s meeting.
Haley on decision to make UN Syria meeting open session: "If you're going to sit there and take up for Assad, you need to say it in public." pic.twitter.com/GELLB8uemK
— ABC News (@ABC) April 7, 2017
“You know, they called an emergency council meeting, which we’re more than happy to have,” Haley explained. “They wanted it in closed sessions, and we said, ‘No, if you’re going to sit there and take up for Assad, you need to say it in the public.'”