US Withdraws from the UN Human Rights Council: A shameless hypocrisy
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On June 19th Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, and Nikki Haley, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, announced that the United States would withdraw from the Human Rights Council. It cited as justification the "shameless hypocrisy" of allowing human rights violators to sit on the Council, the lack of a "fair or competitive election process" as well as a "well-documented bias against Israel". The United Nations Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body under the United Nations General Assembly. Its founding document, General Assembly resolution 60/251, states that it is "responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights" by addressing "violations of human rights... and make recommendations thereon". It has almost no binding power on member states, working by deliberation and consensus of members, and as such its major function is to provide forums for discussion, opportunities for analysis and reports, and to establish a universal standard by which fighters for human rights can reference. There are few axioms of rhetoric that hold true and apply to politics, but one that seems to apply is whatever is omitted from a list is more important than what is included. The comments of US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley provide a perfect example. Dotted throughout Nikki Haley's announcement of the US's withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council are examples of human rights abusers whose membership on the council contributed to the decision. China, Cuba, Iran, and, with particular emphasis, the Democratic Republic of the Congo are all deemed "unconscionable" abusers of human rights. Although there is no doubt that these countries do violate human rights, exceptionalism appears near the end of the statement to separate the US from them: "America has a proud legacy as a champion of human rights... a proud legacy of liberating oppressed people and defeating tyranny throughout the world". Here, there is the added frustration of this accusation being incrediably selective. Taking each country listed this "proud legacy" includes the Imperial War against Cuba in 1898, and the subsequent post-war settlement allowing for future unilateral US intervention, as well as the taking of Cuban land which provided the land for the future human rights abuses in Guantanamo Bay. Following the 1960 independence revolution of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the US president approved the assassination of the democratic leader of the people, Patrice Lumumba, in order to protect mining rights of US and Belgian companies.
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