Saturday, June 7, 2008

US splits from UN Human Rights Council

Human Rights Watch believes that a decision by the United States to disengage from the UN Human Rights Council amounts to an abandonment of human rights defenders and victims.

The United States has decided not to participate at the Council unless it is absolutely necessary and it feels compelled to do so by “matters of deep national interest.” Although not a member of the Human Rights Council, the United States had participated as an observer at the council since its inception in 2006.

Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch said, “Whatever the council’s problems, this decision is a victory for abusive states and a betrayal of those fighting for their rights worldwide.”

I won’t claim to know if this was a good idea or not, but several of the other blogs that I’ve read today that are commenting on this story definitely believe that “it is about time.” However, even with all its faults, I have to wonder if leaving the UN Human Rights Council behind with a “never look back” attitude is going to end up as an abandonment of human rights defenders and victims. It is ironic that the United States never fully committed to aiding the Council, but used the substantial weaknesses of the Council as justification for us distancing ourselves from it.

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