UNITED NATIONS: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday evening that Washington had decided to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council, citing “failed efforts to reform the body’s membership and do away with an agenda item focused on human rights” in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

The 47-member Council is the UN’s top human rights body.

Diplomats saw the US withdrawal from the world body as further evidence of the Trump administration’s retreat from a commitment to human rights, multilateralism and a rules-based international order.

This is the first time any country has voluntarily left the Human Rights Council. The only other member to leave was Libya, whose membership was suspended in 2011 after the UN General Assembly deemed the government responsible for human rights violations.

“The withdrawal of the US is deeply regrettable,” said International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) Director Phil Lynch. “The constructive engagement of the United States, with a genuine commitment to human rights and the rule of law, is essential for peace, security and sustainable development.

“While the Human Rights Council is far from perfect, it makes a significant contribution to protecting human rights, providing justice to victims, and promoting accountability for perpetrators,” Mr Lynch said.

“The role the Council has played in securing the freedom of detained human rights defenders, in shining a spotlight on human rights atrocities in Syria and North Korea, and in promoting women’s rights, LGBT rights, and freedom of expression online and offline, are just a few examples.”

In recent years, Washington has played an important leadership role in addressing situations of concern at the Council, such as Sri Lanka and China, and in curbing the influence of authoritarian and repressive states.

“Even under the current administration, US diplomatic efforts have been key to ensuring that the Council maintains its focus on human rights monitoring, reporting and accountability, and resisting the idea popular among some states that any discussion on human rights in a given country somehow violates sovereignty,” said Salma El Hosseiny, a UNHRC advocate at the International Service for Human Rights.

The US withdrawal from the Human Rights Council hardly comes as a surprise. Nonetheless, it needs to be seen as part of a significant and worrying regression on human rights in the US and the world.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2018

Opinion

Editorial

Punjab crisis
01 Dec, 2022

Punjab crisis

ADMINISTRATIVE chaos has ruled Punjab ever since the ouster of the PTI government in April, deepening the...
Quetta attack
01 Dec, 2022

Quetta attack

It would be foolishness of the highest order were the authorities to ignore the emerging threat.
World AIDS Day
01 Dec, 2022

World AIDS Day

AS countries mark World AIDS Day on Dec 1, a timely report from Unicef has renewed concerns about the severe...
A call for bloodshed
30 Nov, 2022

A call for bloodshed

The state has wasted precious time by not consolidating its success in pushing TTP out of its strongholds in the north.
Missing childhoods
30 Nov, 2022

Missing childhoods

THE fact is that despite some legal efforts to end the curse of child marriage taking place in Pakistan under the...
Unemployment concerns
30 Nov, 2022

Unemployment concerns

THE ILO finding that labour market recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, as in many other...