US Withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

Another unilateral withdrawal from an international institution.

Via the NYT:  Trump Administration Withdraws U.S. From U.N. Human Rights Council

The United States withdrew on Tuesday from the world’s most important human rights body in protest of its frequent criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It was the latest effort by the Trump administration to pull away from international organizations and agreements that it finds objectionable.

It was the first time a member has voluntarily left the United Nations Human Rights Council. The United States now joins Iran, North Korea and Eritrea as the only countries that refuse to participate in the council’s meetings and deliberations.

“Earlier this year, as it has in previous years, the Human Rights Council passed five resolutions against Israel — more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran and Syria combined,” Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said in a speech on Tuesday. “This disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights.”

Ok, so let’s consider the last week or so.

  1. The US government is under intense criticism for the way it is handling immigrant families and is engaged in conscious policy actions aimed at leveraging human suffering to get a desired legislative outcome.
  2. The President of the United States treated Kim Jung Un like an equal, and praised him: “He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country.”  Trump also minimized Kim’s record of abuse.  When FNC’s Bret Baier noted “[Kim]’s done some really bad things,” Trump replied:  “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”
  3. And now Trump has withdrawn the US from the UN Human Rights Council.

At a minimum, it is more than bizarre to criticize the Council for not admonishing North Korea enough and then joining a very small group of nations outside the Council which includes North Korea.

In the grand scheme of things, this is not the worst thing that the Trump administration is doing at the moment.  Indeed, the worst thing it is doing at the moment is engaging in human rights abuses in the name of immigration law.

Still, even if one thinks that the UNHRC is ineffective, or that it criticizes Israel too much, one still has to admit that the symbolism of this withdrawal is problematic.  The move, along with the border policies of the administration, its praise of Kim, and its opprobrium for our democratic allies (among other things) certainly underscores that President Trump seems to lack much sympathy for what are usually thought of as core American ideals (that whole democracy and human rights thing).

Look, I am not outraged by this in the sense I that understand the limitations of the body in question.  Still, it is more than a bit chilling that the US President seems not to care about human rights (certainly that is the signal at the moment).  Further, his disdain for international institutions, and American leadership and influence, continues to be troubling.

 

 

 

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Lounsbury says:

    So you all are geting the nativist Know Nothing party fraction wet dream, Live.
    Your greatest Republican President said, I have read:

    I am not a Know-Nothing – that is certain. … Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equals, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to that I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy

    ( Browne, Francis Fisher (1914). The Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln: A Narrative and Descriptive Biography with Pen-pictures and Personal Recollections by Those who Knew Him. Browne & Howell. p. 153)
    Entertaining that reference to Russia.

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  2. An Interested Party says:

    @Lounsbury: From Lincoln to the this cesspool…how low the GOP has sunk…

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  3. John430 says:

    I don’t blame Haley. Half the members of the UN Commission are among the worst nations violating human rights.
    As to separating children…approximately 20,000 American children are removed from their parents when one, or both of them, are incarcerated. The kids are placed in foster homes.

    Funny how everybody here seems to be more concerned about non-citizen children instead of American kids.

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  4. Kari Q says:

    @John430:

    Nice whataboutism, there.

    News flash! Children being put in cages is worse than children being put into foster care, and heaven knows foster care is not what it should be.

    Of course, you don’t appear to care about either one.

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  5. Kathy says:

    President Lincoln should call and ask for his party back.

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  6. TM01 says:

    This is Awesome Trump.

    He’s protecting kids from human trafficking at the border.

    And now pulling out of this useless UN committee.

    Best approach to the UN in my life time.

    And I get it. You like the old foreign policy, the one where we get empty promises from rogue nations who then proceed to develop nuclear weapons anyway.

    You wonder how your policies failed, and are upset when someone comes along and tries a different approach.

    I’m also old enough to remember when Gorbachev and Arafst won Nobel Peace Prizes.

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  7. Hal_10000 says:

    In a vacuum, I wouldn’t entirely disagree with this. Bush disagreed with the creation of this council and refused to participate it. Ignore the name and concentrate on what it actually does. It’s main purpose, as far as I can tell, is to give a veneer of respectability to despicable regimes while allowing nations to vent their anti-Semitism. There are very good reasons why we should refuse to participate in this hideous facade of a human rights body.

    Of course, our withdrawal would have a little more weight if it were being done by literally anyone other than President Trump.

  8. Slugger says:

    Can the US make it as an autarky? Tariff walls, real walls, withdrawal from UN functions, and non diplomatic comments toward world leaders previously considered allies surely add up to a withdrawal from the rest of the world. Being the leading nation is expensive, frustrating, and annoying, but are we ready to step away? There are advantages to being number one.

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  9. @John430: You would like this cartoon.

    @Hal_10000: If we were withdrawing because the Council was failing to live up to its name, that would be one thing. That isn’t what this is.

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  10. @Slugger: That is one of the weird aspects of all of this: the logical conclusion of most of Trump’s moves will diminish American power worldwide.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @John430: How many American children are being separated from their parents for speeding tickets?

    How many American children are being separated from their parents when the parents have broken no laws and were merely seeking safety?

    STFU with your false equivalencies.

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @TM01:

    He’s protecting kids from human trafficking at the border.

    So that’s the lie you tell yourself to justify this inhumane morally bankrupt policy. Nice to know that the going price of a soul is an extra candy bar each week.

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  13. Kathy says:

    If the grand Cheeto of the tiny hands, and Bush the younger before him, were really serious about human rights concerns, they’d have set up their own international organization to promote and defend human rights, not just walked away from one.

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  14. KM says:

    @TM01:

    He’s protecting kids from human trafficking at the border.

    So taking children from their rightful guardians/ parents is “preventing human trafficking”? Really – I thought that was how one engaged in it! I know y’all like to change definitions of words to suit your current lies but the truth is if anyone’s doing what you claim here, it’s Trump et al. Let’s break this down with the appropriate terms, shall we?

    They’re literally kidnapping the children (take someone away illegally by force, typically to obtain a ransom) and relocating them against their parent’s will (action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labour or commercial /sexual exploitation). It is illegal as the current policies – not laws as they claim – Flores requires no unnecessary delay to release and the government is obligated to place children in the “least restrictive” setting. Of course, this applies to unaccompanied children so Trump’s making crap up by insisting taking kids away is “law” (kidnapping). Trump’s on record that he’s taking the kids to force concessions from liberals (ransom) and to serve as deterrence for asylum seekers because they may not get the kids back (ransom, commercial exploitation as for-profit incarceration). Children are not being returned to families as the adults are being deported (kidnapping, false imprisonment) and taxpayer money is being funneled to private companies to benefit off all this for an indefinite period of time (human trafficking, commercial exploitation)

    For a group obsessed with Pizzagate, y’all are surprisingly OK with kids being snatched like you said was happening so long as Trump bleats out the right phrase.

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  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @John430:

    As to separating children…approximately 20,000 American children are removed from their parents when one, or both of them, are incarcerated.

    What a stupid fvcking argument…but considering the source it figures.
    If you were arrested right now for a misdemeanor your kid would not be immediately taken from your arms and put into a cage to sit on a concrete floor with a good chance of never seeing you again.
    You may be the dumbest fvcker on the planet.

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  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I am so fvcking sick and tired of all these cowards who won the goddamn lottery by being born white in the US, through no effort of their own, thinking that it gives them the right to treat others like they are lesser human beings.
    I have seen, with my own eyes, Haitians so desperate for a better life that they will climb onto a rickety overloaded boat made of driftwood and try to make it to America…only to learn later that they had all died in the effort.
    I have seen, with my own eyes, the remains of Cubans that have washed up on shore…because their raft made of inner tubes didn’t survive the Gulfstream currents.
    To have cowards like John430 and J@nos and TM01 and Bunge and JKB think that they are so much better and want to deny these people a better life…it would be laughable, if not so fvcking pathetic.
    If any one of you ass-hats were in the same position you wouldn’t have the balls to do what these people are doing…and don’t flatter yourself for a minute to think that you would. You are weak, ignorant, pussies…every one of you…we see that in your comments every day. These people are twice the human beings you are. You are pieces of shit, and should be embarrassed for even drawing a breath.

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  17. PJ says:

    Never heard someone arguing that Gorbachev didn’t deserve his Nobel Peace Price, but then he’s a Putin critic, so I guess that’s why TM01 believes that.

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  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Apparently HHS sec. Nielsen is drafting an order to stop family separation at the border.
    My guess is Dennison will sign it and take credit for stopping a terrible policy that is all the Democrats fault. The press will let him get away with the lie.
    I guess Nielson got the message last night when she tried to eat at a Mexican restaurant.
    https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000005964109/kirstjen-nielsen-heckled-at-mexican-restaurant.html

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  19. John430 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I understand that it is against American law to illegally enter the United States. Apparently you do not.

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  20. John430 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: That is such a cheap that shot you have relegated yourself to a new category-Asshole.

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  21. @John430: Sorry you feel that way, and I can appreciate why you do. Still, you are the one who stated “Funny how everybody here seems to be more concerned about non-citizen children instead of American kids” while showing zero compassion for what is happening at the border. And your comparison to US kids is not even equivalent.

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  22. BTW: not a cheap shot. If the shoe fits, and all that.

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  23. Own your own position.

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  24. george says:

    Its a lousy council. But the reason for leaving it stinks.

  25. An Interested Party says:

    …you have relegated yourself to a new category-Asshole.

    Pots and kettles are coming to mind…and “a cheap that shot”s are nothing compared to taking any child away from his/her parent(s)…

  26. John430 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Given that you don’t even know which Darryl you are, I’d hardly be the dumbest one on the planet. The point was…why are leftists more concerned with non-citizen children and not U.S. born. Could it be that illegal immigrants are a “sexier” tool for Democrats to bash Rpublicans?

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  27. John430 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It is valid if the lamentations are for the children of illegal people entering the US while lamentations for the children of incarcerated parents is nil. As I mentioned elsewhere: is it that illegals separated from their kids is a better tool for Democrats to bash Republicans? I think so. I also think the anguish over the immigrant kids is political and artificial.

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  28. John430 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I have seen much of the world and witnessed things that would make you vomit. Generally, I’d say humanitarian aid is a wonderful thing and thank God that we, as a nation, are able to provide it.

    Having said that, I wonder when the left will hold the other nations accountable for their actions. I was roundly condemned be Mr. Taylor when I suggested that Mexico and certain other Central American nations were “failed states”. When, oh when, will the left demand action by the OAS to clean up these corrupted nations? Will any of you call for U.N. intervention? Likely not, because you want to continue bashing America and enforcing peace and stability on Mexico and Central America isn’t as “sexy” a position, is it?

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  29. @John430: You are creating a false equivalency for various reasons.

    1) There was a conscious policy choice here to leverage the suffering of children to generate political outcomes. That is cruel and inhumane and does not have an analog in US domestic law enforcement.

    2) While it is true that children in the US can be placed into foster care as a result of their parent’s criminal acts, there is not a system of placing children in detention centers as a means of punishing the parents or to use as a means of deterring said crime. (It is also true that such children have a rather higher chance of being placed with other members of their family versus what we are seeing at the border).

    Perhaps you haven’t thought this through, but I was not trying to be glib or a smartass with that cartoon reference: I honestly think that you are defending cruelty because your preferred party is in charge and because foreign children’s suffering is placed lower on your agenda than blind fealty to a specific interpretation of the law (and then making it worse by doing the “American children v. foreign children” bit).

    Maybe you haven’t thought through the implications of your position.

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  30. An Interested Party says:

    How are people escaping drug violence, domestic violence, or terrorism (or even people looking to make better economic lives for themselves and their families) by coming to this country the same as people here who sell drugs, commit violence, and/or abuse their families? In domestic situations, people have their children taken away from them to protect the children…that is nothing like taking children away from illegal immigrants to punish them and/or “motivate” them to not come to this country…this is not about getting tools for Democrats to bash Republicans, rather, this is about showing humane treatment to scared, desperate people….

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  31. @John430:

    When, oh when, will the left demand action by the OAS to clean up these corrupted nations? Will any of you call for U.N. intervention? Likely not, because you want to continue bashing America and enforcing peace and stability on Mexico and Central America isn’t as “sexy” a position, is it?

    The problem is that it simply doesn’t work like that.

    And since America controls what it is doing, currently, at the border, then America is the one to be criticized.

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  32. Leonard says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “If we were withdrawing because the Council was failing to live up to its name, that would be one thing. That isn’t what this is.”

    “Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the Council. The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny and the Council continues politicizing and scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records, in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks. Therefore, as we said we would do a year ago if we did not see any progress, the United States is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council. In doing so, I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments. On the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of this hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

    Listen to the speech. Haley talks about the past year reform efforts, calls out the human rights abusers including new member DRC, and criticizes our allies for failing to support reforms.

  33. Kari Q says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    While it is true that children in the US can be placed into foster care as a result of their parent’s criminal acts, there is not a system of placing children in detention centers as a means of punishing the parents or to use as a means of deterring said crime.

    And children are not taken from their parents for any misdemeanor other than entering the country without documentation.

    Edited: Except maybe child endangerment. But that’s a whole different thing. This is like losing your child over a shoplifting conviction, not knowing where that child is held, never having a hearing to determine custody, and possibly never seeing the child again.

  34. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @John430:

    When, oh when, will the left demand action by the OAS to clean up these corrupted nations? Will any of you call for U.N. intervention?

    When, oh when, will you understand how the world works?

    Likely not, because you want to continue bashing America

    Your president and your America is ripping children from their mothers. That deserves to be bashed. Your blind support for any policy this buffoon puts forward, just because it is your team, deserves to be bashed.

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  35. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @John430:

    The point was…why are leftists more concerned with non-citizen children and not U.S. born.

    If that was your point…it was a specious point.

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  36. Monala says:

    @John430:

    …lamentations for the children of incarcerated parents is nil.

    A quick Google search will turn up dozens of organizations across the U.S. that work to help the children of incarcerated parents. I won’t do any links, because my prior attempts to share links on this site have sent me to moderation, so do your own work. I will, however, share quotes about the mission and work of some of these organizations:

    Regular family contact improves a child’s well-being and development, eases the process of reunification when the parent returns home, and reduces the likelihood that a mother will return to prison, according to a report by the Correctional Association of New York.

    Many obstacles keep incarcerated mothers and their children apart. The suffering that a family experiences when mother and child are separated can be devastating. Fortunately, intervention from IMLP attorneys and law students can make a significant difference in helping mothers in jail or prison maintain meaningful connections with their sons and daughters.

    The ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project advocates for pregnant women while incarcerated to receive the reproductive health services that are needed.

    • WE BELIEVE that increasing access to legal information and resources for parents is crucial to reclaiming self-determination and dignity for people who have been directly impacted by the Prison Industrial Complex.
    • WE BELIEVE that the Prison Industrial Complex and the Child Welfare System guide harmful and dehumanizing conceptions of parenthood, histories, survival, health, and trauma.
    • WE BELIEVE that a broader understanding of the current criminal justice system is necessary because the current system perpetuates the oppression of marginalized groups, specifically people with low-income, women, and people of color.

  37. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: What strikes me as odd is that while “John430” is so terribly concerned about the plight of children of Americans charged with crimes, he has never thought to bring this issue of major concern up even once in all his years of posting here. Why, it’s almost as if he is only claiming to be concerned as an excuse to cheerlead the kidnapping and torture of foreign-born children…

  38. wr says:

    @Leonard: “Listen to the speech. Haley talks about the past year reform efforts, calls out the human rights abusers including new member DRC, and criticizes our allies for failing to support reforms.”

    Yes. And by “reforms” she means a slavish devotion to anything Netanyahu does.

  39. @Leonard: You are correct, Haley did criticize the Council, and many of those criticisms are valid. The problem is that such an exit, to have any teeth (and I am not sure, actually, when quitting has much in the way of teeth) is for it to be in the context of a broader plan. There does not appear to be a broader plan. There certainly isn’t a broader push for human rights by this administration. The president does not seem to really care about the subject, to be honest. And I say that not to be flippant, but based on his actions. See his praise of Duterte in the Philippines, or his congratulatory call to Erdogan in Turkey. His lavish praise of Kim is the latest example.

    The Kim point is rather key: how in the world can anyone take seriously that this administration is concerned about human rights when the president talks about how great it is that Kim is so tough and how his people love him?

    And again: the US itself is perpetrating its own human rights violations in the name of border security. This is not the week to get on our high horse.

    This move is the kind of thing that makes the cable news/talk radio set happy, but it is hard to see how it actually furthers the cause of human rights. But, the base will love it because they see it as being anti-UN and pro-Israel. And that symbolism will be enough for them.

  40. @wr: It is certainly as if he is repeating what they are saying on FNC or similar outlets.

  41. Leonard says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Is itthe optics or the substance that bothers you? If you’re complaining about the optics, you can’t complain that people will like the announcement for its optics. But then I thikn you’re saying that this whole thing is substance-free. So is this about the UNHRC at all or not? If you think this should be part of a broader plan, you could have written about the plan or at least looked into whether there is one.

  42. @Leonard: I am very much complaining about the substance. I don’t see any. A speech is not substance.

    There is zero evidence that this administration cares about human rights.

    Is there some plan I am missing?

  43. Tyrell says:

    The US should not be in these world organizations.

  44. @Tyrell:

    The US should not be in these world organizations.

    The weird thing about that position is that almost all of these institutions were mainly created by the US and have helped create a world order that is friendly to US interests. Retreating from diminishes our influence, and to no gain that I can discern.

    This is not to say that the always behave as we might wish, or at our behest, but the notion that they are, on balance, a detriment to our interests is a fact-free one.