US Withdrawal From Human Rights Council Deeply Regrettable

The withdrawal of the United States from the Human Rights Council is deeply regrettable as it undermines progress towards the advancement of global human rights.

Sadly the decision is consistent with the Trump administration’s previously demonstrated unwillingness to work with the international community and to prioritise its perceived national self-interest over international agreements.

The decision comes at a time when many governments are retreating from their commitment to human rights and the space for voice of civil society to be heard continues to be under serious threat. It is also a time marked by the growth of an unhealthy nationalism, xenophobia, and an increasingly hostile attitude to the international rule of law.

In focussing on the process of how regional representative states are elected to the Human Rights Council and the Council’s concerns about Israel, a state that has illegally occupied Palestinian territory in defiance of the UN for more than 50 years and which continues to oppress the Palestinian population, the US ignores the positive role the Human Rights Council has played since its formation.

Certainly the Human Rights Council is not perfect nor is the human rights record of any UN member state. Despite its limitations the Human Rights Council through its various mechanisms makes a significant contribution to protecting and advancing human rights, by raising awareness about human rights issues, making recommendations to improve the human rights situation in all countries and promoting accountability for human rights violations.

Up until now the United States has played a constructive role in addressing issues of concern to the Council. With its withdrawal there is one less voice to curb the influence of repressive and authoritarian states.

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