The Trump administration is considering whether or not to withdraw the U.S. from the United Nations Human Rights Council. If the United States decides to pull out from the Council, it will be another step in distancing itself from what’s become a feckless international body. President Trump is also preparing to issue an executive order limiting the amount of funding America provides to the U.N. and other international organizations. That could mean more money for his “America First” policy.
In a story written for Politico, Nahal Toosi and Eliana Johnson write:
No immediate withdrawal is expected ahead of the council’s next session, which starts Monday, but discussion of abandoning the council is likely to alarm international activists already worried that the United States will take a lower profile on global human rights issues under President Donald Trump.
It is possible that President Trump is considering this unprecedented move primarily because of the United Nations’ hypocritical tendency to condemn Israel for human rights abuses while ignoring the blatant violations of other nations. Toosi and Johnson state:
A former State Department official briefed on the discussions said while the council’s targeting of Israel is likely part of the debate, there also are questions about its roster of members and doubts about its usefulness overall.
Since its inception in 2006, the U.N. has been criticized for its ineffectiveness in curtailing human rights violations worldwide. The fact that the council has included nations that have a questionable record on human rights is likely one of the reasons why the organization has been perceived to be ineffective. These countries include Venezuela, China, and Saudi Arabia. According to Amnesty International, all three of these nations routinely engage in human rights abuses against their citizens.
China is one of the most flagrant offenders. According to Amnesty International:
Police detained increasing numbers of human rights defenders outside of formal detention facilities, sometimes without access to a lawyer for long periods, exposing the detainees to the risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Booksellers, publishers, activists and a journalist who went missing in neighbouring countries in 2015 and 2016 turned up in detention in China, causing concerns about China’s law enforcement agencies acting outside their jurisdiction. Controls on the internet, mass media and academia were significantly strengthened. Repression of religious activities outside of direct state control increased.
Amnesty International also highlights Venezuela’s recent human rights offenses:
Prison overcrowding and violence continued. Survivors of gender-based violence faced significant obstacles in accessing justice. Human rights defenders and journalists frequently faced campaigns to discredit them, as well as attacks and intimidation. Political opponents and critics of the government continued to face imprisonment. There were reports of excessive use of force by the police and security forces.
Finally, Saudi Arabia is labeled as a human rights abuser as well:
The authorities severely curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, detaining and imprisoning critics, human rights defenders and minority rights activists on vaguely worded charges. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common, particularly during interrogation, and courts continued to accept torture-tainted “confessions” to convict defendants in unfair trials. Women faced discrimination in both law and practice and were inadequately protected against sexual and other violence. The authorities continued to arrest, detain and deport irregular migrants. Courts imposed many death sentences, including for non-violent crimes and against juvenile offenders; scores of executions were carried out.
Of course, the Human Rights Council is well-known for unfairly targeting Israel for criticism. Last year, the council passed a resolution critical of Israeli settlement activity. As a matter of fact, they passed twenty resolutions disparaging the Jewish State while only passing three resolutions critical of other nations. A U.S. withdrawal from the Human Rights Council will show the United Nations that we will not be willing to lend our support until they decide to take their function seriously.