Threatening to withdraw, America turns the United Nations Human Rights Council into “a supermarket”

09/06/2017

A supermarket is where companies come to show and sell their products if they see their benefits of sale output. And, of course, when they do not, they choose to leave.
The Trump administration has warned of withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council, or the UNHRC. An ultimatum will come from U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley: The UNHRC is to reform or it will see the U.S. depart, as it once did under George W. Bush.
The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, took a swipe on Tuesday at Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, criticized the United Nations for what she called its anti-Israel bias and insisted that the Trump administration would champion human rights. Ms Haley has repeatedly attacked the UN and its different agencies for its treatment of Israel since she took up the post of ambassador this year.
She compared the case of Israel with that of Venezuela, where dozens of protesters have been killed during months of political turmoil yet which currently has a seat on the council.
Venezuela responded to Ms Haley's comment, saying the forum “needs to be free of politicisation and double standards”. In a tart reply to Haley's brief address to the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Jorge Valero used a right of reply under the Geneva body's rules to denounce "the pathetic intervention from the ambassador of the North American empire."
Valero says the U.S. government "does not have the moral authority to credit itself as the universal judge in terms of human rights." He insisted the United States should be "apologizing to the world for the atrocities it has committed throughout history." Valero said the U.S. 'practices torture against people arbitrarily held within illegal facilities" - an apparent allusion to the waterboarding and CIA secret prisons used to interrogate terror suspects. "Its withdrawal from this body would be a gain for human rights around the world," he said.
Campaign groups condemned the threat, saying America should get its own house in order before undermining the global effort to protect against human rights abuses.
Some activists urged Washington to focus on abuses at home. Jamil Dakwar, director of the human rights programme at the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was difficult to believe she was acting out of concern for global human rights when her own administration was trying to clamp down on immigrants and ban certain travellers from entering the country.
"The United States must get its own house in order and make human rights at home a priority - then, it can begin to credibly demand the same of other countries abroad," he told Reuters.
Retreat from human rights at home

Trump administration policies have eroded human rights within the United States. And the Trump travel ban drew widespread condemnation as a violation of human rights. Four UN Special Rapporteurs (along with other UN bodies) found that the Jan. 27, 2017 Executive Order “breaches the country’s international human rights obligations, which protect the principles of non-refoulement and non-discrimination based on race, nationality or religion.”
An emerging foreign policy conveys a disregard for human rights standards in favor of “national security”. Trump administration officials, on a visit last month to Saudi Arabia, made clear that they would play down human rights with important trade and defense partners. President Trump also threw his weight behind the Saudis in recent days, suggesting on Twitter that he had personally leaned on Riyadh to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar.
Disengagement from international institutions that uphold human rights and a withdrawal from its leadership role on international women’s rights characterize the new face of U.S. human rights policy under President Trump. These examples demonstrate the Administration’s broad trend to disengage from or actively undermine international human rights standards—with women’s rights particularly hard-hit. And with its retreat from international institutions and human rights norms both at home and abroad, the new Administration’s actions and omissions are dramatically diminishing protections for the human rights of women and LGBT persons in favor of big talk, big guns, and big money.
The overt politicization of the UNHRC
The U.N. Human Rights Council is a 47-member group that was established in 2006 as a replacement for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Its primary role is to order investigations into governments that violate human rights, but it's far from perfect.
Few who follow the politics of this body would likely claim it is not without its flaws, so certainly demanding changes would be a good thing, right? In truth, the withdrawal threat has less to do with seeking reform and more about advancing the Trump administration’s isolationist agenda.
One of the key problems with the UNHRC is the overt politicization of recent years. Perhaps the most blatant example of this came during last year’s election which determined the nations that would be permitted to sit on the council. In October, Russia was denied its seat while Saudi Arabia was not.
Though Russia is not exactly a world leader when it comes to human rights, when compared to Saudi Arabia, Russia is arguably leagues ahead; Saudi Arabia’s record in this area is far from shining. With tensions rising between the United States and Russia, it is not unreasonable to speculate that this played a key role in the latter being kicked off the UNHRC.
Keeping this in mind, it seems clear that some changes need to be made at the UNHRC. Perhaps with this new administration, Trump will seek to aggressively push for reforms that would exclude or take actions against nations who routinely violate human rights, like Saudi Arabia?
Readers are likely to be unsurprised that this is not the case./.


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All comments [ 6 ]


Gentle Moon 9/6/17 19:38

It’s hard to take Ambassador Haley seriously on US support for human rights in light of Trump administration actions like the Muslim ban and immigration crackdowns.

Love Peace 9/6/17 19:39

The US “must get its own house in order and make human rights at home a priority — then, it can begin to credibly demand the same of other countries abroad”.

yobro yobro 9/6/17 19:40

Under Trump, Washington has broken with decades of US foreign policy by turning away from multi-lateralism.

MaskOf Zero 9/6/17 21:46

The Council has no powers other than to rebuke governments it deems as violating human rights and to order investigations.

LawrenceSamuels 9/6/17 21:59

America is a irresponsible member of UNHRC, just hypocrite!

Only Solidar 9/6/17 22:00

Human rights concerns about Israel can still be addressed under other agenda items, as are those involving other governments. But U.S. departure from the council would be the surest way to guarantee that an excessive focus on Israel continues or even intensifies.

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