GENEVA — Former South Carolina governor and state House representative, Nikki Haley has joined the Trump administration as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.). Advocates for the world’s vulnerable are encouraged by Trump’s pick because Haley is a second-generation immigrant of Indian parents (and a woman as well). As a way to relate to her fellow citizens, Haley cites her humble beginnings of being raised by immigrants in a small rural town. People hope these qualities will help her identify with the people that the U.N. helps.
Ambassador Haley’s record on human rights is beginning to develop. During a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting on June 6, 2017, Haley called on the U.N. to be stricter with other member states. She felt that all countries within the council should strive toward protecting human rights and suggested this does not always happen.
Furthermore, during the 2016 U.S. election, Haley delivered the State of the Union rebuttal for the Republican Party. In this address, she famously warned Americans against listening to the “siren call of the angriest voices.” This was believed to be a reference to Donald Trump’s proposed suspension of Muslim immigration to the U.S. Haley specifically counter-argued that those who support American values and laws and work hard should feel welcomed to America.
Ambassador Haley does have some critics. As governor, she notoriously fought against labor unions in South Carolina and did not expand her state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. There is concern that her conservative ideology may not serve impoverished, disenfranchised populations.
Ambassador Haley’s position on refugees is a little mixed as well. Historically, as a governor, she asked the federal government to halt the entrance of Syrian refugees into South Carolina. Although, as ambassador, Haley seems to show more sympathies for the Syrian plight. In recent months, Ambassador Haley condemned the chemical weapons attack employed in the Syrian civil war. During her address to the U.N. Security Council, she held pictures of dead Syrian children, warning that the U.S. may take military action against Bashar al-Assad without U.N. support.
Being startled into action by the suffering of Syrian children fits Ambassador Haley’s record as governor. When reforming education in her state she recounted how the children in the school of her hometown, Bamberg, did not have basic video equipment. She also noted that background, wealth and education had no impact upon the risk of child abuse. Haley had suffered abuse by a caretaker as a child. When the South Carolinian child-protection-advocacy organization, Silent Tears, presented a report with recommendations for the state, Haley listened and told her story to strengthen their argument.
Haley’s record and statements as ambassador show that she identifies with children and immigrants, innocent people who may be fleeing their homes for better lives. “My story is really not much different from millions of other Americans. Immigrants have been coming to our shores for generations to live the dream that is American,” she said. Haley acknowledges that living in the U.S. is a blessing, and so hopefully she can empathize with countries who want to achieve the success stories seen there. Hopefully Ambassador Haley will use her tenure at the U.N. to help others achieve this.
– Mary Katherine Crowley