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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley makes a speech during the United Nations General Assembly 30th plenary meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Nov. 1, 2018.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley makes a speech at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Nov. 1, 2018.Atilgan Ozdil / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images file

Here are Nikki Haley's top moments as U.N. ambassador

The former South Carolina governor served as then-President Trump's top delegate to the United Nations.


Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley jumped into the presidential race this week, pitting her against her former boss, President Donald Trump — Haley also served U.S ambassador to the United Nations during Trump's first two years in office.

As ambassador to the U.N., Haley was responsible for relaying the U.S.’s perspective on global issues to representatives from the 192 other member states

Here's a look back at some of the most significant moments of her tenure:

Iran nuclear deal 

Haley defended Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, a signature part of former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. She called the deal “terrible” and claimed it only made Iran’s bad behavior worse.

But less than a year earlier, Haley said on "Meet the Press" that “you’re going to see us stay” in the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.

“What we hope is that we can improve the situation,” Haley said. “And that’s the goal. So I think right now, we’re in the deal to see how we can make it better.” 

The 2018 withdrawal upended the Obama administration’s move, which was intended to block pathways for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, but faced criticism for providing concessions to Iran for its compliance. Since Trump opted out, the Biden administration hasn’t been able to resuscitate the deal.

Haley hasn’t shrank from her anti-JCPOA position since leaving the Trump administration. 

In November, she said that if Biden gets back into an Iran nuclear deal, “the next president will shred it on her first day in office.”

UN Human Rights Council

Under Haley, the U.S. withdrew from the UN’s Human Rights Council, citing alleged bias against Israel, among other reasons. 

“This disproportionate focus and unending hostility towards Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights,” Haley said when explaining the U.S. decision to withdraw in 2018.

The U.S. has since rejoined the Human Rights Council, though Biden administration officials have said that it is flawed and in need of reform.

Haley also backed a series of controversial moves by the Trump administration on Israeli-Palestinian issues. She said that the U.S. embassy in Israel should be moved to Jerusalem even before former President Trump made the move official. Haley also backed the U.S. decision to slash funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to Palestinian refugees.

The Biden administration has since restored aid to UNRWA.

Russia sanctions

Haley wasn’t always in lock step with the White House. 

In 2018, she announced on CBS Face the Nation that the Trump administration would impose new sanctions on Russia for supporting Syria during its use of chemical weapons. 

She said the sanctions would be against any companies that deal with equipment related to Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad or his use of chemical weapons.

But the White House contradicted her claims, saying they weren’t going ahead with new sanctions. 

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said she was ahead of the curve and momentarily confused. Haley responded: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” 

Paris climate agreement

Haley defended the Trump administration’s push to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, in which countries set targets for controlling emissions. 

“President Trump acted in America’s best interest, moving away from a flawed agreement that placed too heavy a burden on American jobs, and opening the door to a new agreement that reaches the right balance,” she wrote in a 2017 statement

But Paris agreement provisions said that countries couldn’t withdraw within the first three years that it was put in place. The deal went into effect in 2016, so by the time Trump started the ball rolling to formally withdraw, Haley was no longer UN ambassador. 

The Biden administration rejoined the deal shortly after taking office.