The United States could have done more to change the United Nations Council on Human Rights from within.
Several days ago, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., announced that her country has decided to withdraw from the Human Rights Council, a multilateral organization, characterizing it as “a cesspool of political bias.” This is a frightening decision because it means that the U.S. disowns the legitimacy of this body.
Precisely to avoid this last criticism, the U.S. ambassador, who made the announcement accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, stated, ”I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments.” She added that the U.S. is taking this step “because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.“ Ironically, the decision was announced the same day that the Human Rights Council president harshly criticized the U.S. policy of separating children from their parents who have entered the country without legal permission.
The three arguments put forward by the two top U.S. diplomats were first, that the council includes members who are human rights violators, such as Saudi Arabia, Algeria, China and Vietnam; second, that the U.N., with its headquarters in Geneva, has a “chronic bias” against Israel exemplified by the U.N.’s recent attempt to pass a resolution condemning attacks by the Israeli army against Palestinian civilian demonstrators; and finally, that the council needs fundamental reform. The U.S. asked for these reforms a year ago when it assumed its place on the council, which consists of 47 member states, among them Bolivia, and which have a three-year rotating position.
All things considered, the decision is just the most recent in a context of contempt for multilateralism promoted by President Donald Trump since the beginning of his presidential campaign. Thus, the U.S. exit from the Human Rights Council joins the decision to abandon the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization, also because of its position regarding the conflict between Israel and Palestine; the decision to break away from the Paris agreement on climate change; the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the nuclear accord with Iran.
Predictably, many have lamented the U.S. decision, beginning with the president of the council and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as spokespeople for different international human rights organizations, all of whom concur when it comes to pointing out that the U.S. could have done more to change the organization from within. The only one applauding this decision was the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
So, we live in uncertain times since decisions like this only allow us to imagine that, in the short and medium term, powers like the U.S. can begin to intervene unilaterally in other countries and ignore the international community.
About this publication
|Editor||Carlos Orías B.|
|Director||Claudia Benavente P.|
La Razón is a daily newspaper published in La Paz, Bolivia. The newspaper began publication on 1 March 1990.