US Withdrawal from UNHRC

July 11, 2018
8 months

Why in news?

The United States has recently withdrawn from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

How has US's HRC membership been?

  • Under President Obama, the US was elected for a maximum of 2 consecutive terms by the UNGA.
  • After a year off, it was re-elected in 2016 for the third term.
  • The US is half-way through a three-year term.
  • It would now be the first member to withdraw from the council.

What is the rationale?

  • Israel - The council recently voted to probe killings in Gaza and accused Israel of using excessive force.
  • The US and Australia cast the only “no” votes.
  • US's current move comes as a response to the alleged bias of UNHRC against Israel.
  • The disproportionate focus and unending hostility are cited as proof for the Council's political bias.
  • Immigrants - It is also a response to the intense criticism against US for detaining children at the US-Mexico border.
  • UN human rights chief called on Washington to halt its “unconscionable” separation policy.
  • Council - Trump administration had long threatened to quit if council reforms were not undertaken.
  • The US perceives the council's membership as disrespect for the most basic rights.
  • The US wants to make it easier to expel member states with poor rights records.
  • Currently, two-thirds majority of UN General Assembly is needed to suspend a member state.
  • US expressed dissatisfaction at Russia, China, Cuba and Egypt for thwarting US efforts to reform the council.
  • The US has maintained that the withdrawal was not any retreat from its human rights commitments.

What are the implications?

  • Agreements - Washington’s withdrawal is the latest US rejection of multilateral engagement.
  • The earlier ones are withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and Iran nuclear deal.
  • Reforms - HRC reform discussions are going on, with engagement by states and human rights organisations.
  • It thus shows US's impatience to stay on course a multilateral process.
  • Rights - It signals that US is not making human rights a priority in its foreign policy.
  • By giving up its role at the HRC, it reduces its ability to influence the human rights agenda.
  • Global - Withdrawal would make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities around the world.
  • It could bolster countries such as Cuba, Russia, Egypt and Pakistan.
  • These countries resist UN's authority citing it as interference in their sovereign issues.
  • Many countries are now advocating withdrawal.


Source: The Hindu, The Wire

Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.
UPSC Admissions 2019