Nikki Haley will leave her post as the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the year, it was announced Tuesday. Haley has been a vocal champion of religious freedom during her time at the UN.
Speaking during a joint announcement from the Oval Office Oct. 9, President Donald Trump said that Haley first told him six months ago that she would look to “take a break” after two years on the job. The president said that Ambassador Haley had done an “incredible job” during her time in post and was “very special.”
“She’s a fantastic person, very importantly, but she also is somebody that gets it,” said Trump.
During her time at the United Nations, Haley spoke frequently in defense of persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East, and delivered the closing keynote at July’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
She also had a hand in the implementation of major policies, including the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, fulfilling campaign promise made by successive presidential candidates.
“As Americans, we have been given a great set of tools with which to build a more perfect union. The protection of our religious freedom – our right to worship, and believe, and even instruct our children – in the manner in which we choose and to live our faith is first among these tools,” said Haley in July.
“We will continue to forcefully advocate for religious tolerance in the international arena. Not just because so many people are being denied this right, but because defending religious freedom makes for a safer and more peaceful world for all of us.”
During the announcement of her departure, Haley dismissed speculation that she would be seeking to challenge Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination. “No, I am not running for 2020,” she said while repeating her support for Trump’s reelection.
As former governor of South Carolina and a prominent member of the Trump administration’s foreign policy team, Haley has been widely tipped as a potential future presidential candidate.
She said it was an “honor of a lifetime” to serve in the United Nations, and that there was “no personal reason” for her choosing to step down at this time. Instead, she said that it was important for politicians to know when to step back from a particular role.
Trump expressed remorse at Haley’s departure, saying “We’re all happy for you in one way, but we hate to lose (you).” He also kept the door open for her return to the administration, “at some point but in a different capacity.”
If she were to do so, Trump said, she “can have (her) pick” of positions.
Prior to being appointed ambassador, Haley was the first female governor to be elected in South Carolina, and first Indian-American female governor in the country.
President Trump said he would announce Haley’s replacement within a few weeks.