The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a subdivision of the United Nations that is dedicated to furthering the cause of human rights around the world. This is the body that is responsible for opening investigations into the suppression of human rights in all countries. Investigations are in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document includes thirty articles which lay out rights of a variety of types, including constitutional, economic, and social.
All of this sounds fairly fundamental and in accordance with the spirit of the founding of our country. However, just today, Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the UN, announced intentions of withdrawing from the UNHRC. Her reasoning? Haley named hypocrisy and bias against the state of Israel.
Withdrawing from the UNHRC comes right on the tail of President Trump's historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump's relationships with countries that are not American allies have blossomed; the same cannot be said for relationships with our allies. According to the Washington Post, Trump has imposed more tariffs on our allies than have been imposed upon the country of China. A pattern is beginning to develop. The United States has begun to alienate our allies in favor of relationships with countries that are not our allies and do not uphold the same ideals that the United States was founded on. The withdrawal from the UNHRC only further solidifies this.
However, the withdrawal is somewhat fitting. Recent headlines have been dominated by stories covering the treatment of children of illegal aliens that have crossed our border. Currently, due to the strict immigration policy, children of immigrants are being separated from their parents and held in detention centers. These centers have children being held in caged rooms, with foil blankets, and in some cases, no interpreter. Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has decried American immigration policies, describing the separation of these children as "unconscionable." Thus, the withdrawal of America from the UNHRC goes hand-in-hand with the immoral and unethical treatment of these children.
The United States' membership on the UNHRC served as a powerful tool for foreign diplomacy. When a nation is involved within a specific council, this gives them an active position to advocate for policies that are in the interest of their nation. Withdrawing from the council will cause all roles that the United States plays with the UNHRC to be passive, making it far less likely for them to be in alignment with the US's interests.
There is very little that the US stands to gain from this move. The United States' decision to leave the UNHRC makes it the first country ever to leave the council of its own accord. The thought behind this is to invalidate the UN. Donald Trump is no fan of the UN, saying in the past that the body is "not a friend of democracy." Leaving the UNHRC only stands to set back the global fight for human rights.
As tenuous as the global human rights movement is, a superpower like the United States withdrawing from the UNHRC is more than a drop in the bucket for such advocacy.
Contact your representative here to communicate that you support human rights and membership in the UNHRC.