Civil Society Responses to US Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council

Following the announcement of the United States withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), a number of civil society organisations with offices in Geneva, the headquarters of UNHRC, offer their opinions on the resulting impact on the work of the Human Rights Council. For media enquiries, please contact

CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance

“The USA did not engage in the Human Rights Council under the Bush administration and only returned under the Obama Administration. The Council survived then and it will survive now. The worrying part is that global power dynamics have shifted significantly since then and with the US withdrawal, the vacuum will certainly be filled by Russia and China who have not demonstrated commitment to advancing the human rights discourse. This could negatively impact on Council priorities. Democratic states committed to protecting and promoting human rights will need to show increased commitment to safeguarding human rights norms.”

  • Susan Wilding, Head of Geneva office, CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance

Amnesty International

 “Once again President Trump is showing his complete disregard for the fundamental rights and freedoms the US claims to uphold. While the Human Rights Council is by no means perfect and its membership is frequently under scrutiny, it remains an important force for accountability and justice.

“The US should urgently reverse this decision, which places it squarely on the wrong side of history. It is wilfully choosing to undermine the human rights of all people everywhere, and their struggles for justice.”

  • Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International

 International Commission of Jurists

"The withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council is unlikely in itself to have much impact on the Council, or human rights in the world. The real issue is the Trump administration's broader rejection of multilateralism and rule of law (international or otherwise), and how it acts in practice, both at home and abroad.”

  • Matt Pollard, Senior Legal Adviser, International Commission of Jurists

 International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

"The withdrawal of the US is deeply regrettable. The constructive engagement of States with a genuine commitment to human rights and the rule of law is essential for peace, security and sustainable development."

‘While the Human Rights Council is far from perfect, it makes a significant contribution to protecting human rights, providing justice to victims, and promoting accountability for perpetrators."

  • Phil Lynch, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) Director 

 DefendDefenders

"The Trump administration decision to turn its back on the UN's top human rights body is childish, hypocritical, and self-defeating. Today, only the enemies of human rights, some of whom sit on the Council, are pleased. 

“Nature abhors a vacuum, and the same goes for multilateral fora. While the US will lose voice and influence, China, Russia, Egypt will likely try and assert greater control over the Human Rights Council's agenda and dynamics." 

  • Nicolas Agostini, Representative to the UN for DefendDefenders 

 Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

"By withdrawing the US put appeasement of Israel before the need to protect and support those struggling for human rights and democracy around the world."  

  • Jeremie Smith, Director, Geneva Office, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

 

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