RNA - The plan to pressure the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights suggests US hostility to UN human rights protection is not really about flaws with the Council as it has previously claimed. The US announced in June its decision to leave the 47-member Human Rights Council over its alleged anti-Israel bias, showing his complete disregard for the fundamental rights and freedoms the US claims to uphold.
Unsurprisingly, the move has drawn immediate praise from Israel. This is because, in addition to the funding cuts to the UN, the Trump administration has announced $200 million cut in aid for Palestinians who are still under occupation.
The decision comes three months after Trump administration officials celebrated the illegal relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem Al-Quds from Tel Aviv - a move that provoked outrage among Palestinians as well as in the international community - while Israeli forces killed more than 50 people including an eight-month-old baby during the protests.
These plans and decisions are just the latest in a series of moves that has everyone from human rights advocates to UN agencies worried. For those keeping score, the list of things the Trump administration has done to threaten human rights at home and abroad is a long one.
So far we have seen no principled commitment to promoting human rights, much less ending the illegal wars on Syria and Yemen. We have also heard broad pledges of support, but they have been applied only for traditional adversaries or when ignoring a problem would be too damaging even for the Trump administration’s credibility. Most of the time, when any competing interest or ally has been at stake, human rights and International Humanitarian Law has been jettisoned. This has been true as regards the US-backed and Saudi-led war on Yemen or the Israeli atrocities in Palestine.
In some ways, it is easy to tell what the official position of the Trump administration is regarding human rights. The fact that the executive branch of a country, which thinks of itself as a stalwart supporter of human rights, is so ambiguous about international rights and so hostile to human rights is in itself a cause for concern.
It is worth remembering too that US self perception has not always matched reality as the treatment of Palestinians, the detentions without charges at Guantanamo, and the torture of detainees in the rendition program have revealed. All these actions and more demonstrate disdain for human rights across the civil, political, social and economic rights spectrum in official Washington:
- Trump’s administration undermined indigenous rights and risked the right to water by advancing the construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines,
- Privacy rights were harmed when he took action to exclude non-US citizens from agency privacy policies,
- The Muslim bans violated the right to non-discrimination,
- A wide range of racist actions related to migrants without documentation,
- Arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain,
- Undoing efforts to fight climate change, as well as failing to show up at the UN human eights meetings.
According to Fars News Agancy, Trump’s administration does know, but needs to recognize that all these policies and actions harm the protection and advancement of human rights. It needs to realize that the rule of law and human rights are two sides of the same principle - the freedom to live in dignity and free from foreign occupation, discrimination, tyranny, oppression and terror.
By attacking the UN and cutting off funding to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council, Washington cannot undermine the indivisible and intrinsic relationship between the international rule of law and human rights. The US has always claimed it champions human rights, but it is time to put its money where its mouth is as everyone can now see the naked truth for himself or herself.