China, and other countries “evading oversight”
The U.S. government has announced the United States’ withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It does not mean that Washington makes light of human rights situations in various countries. That is because the U.S. government is opposing human rights suppressing countries such as China, due to their “shameless hypocrisy” (in the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo) of talking about other countries’ human rights issues under the cloak of their status as UNHRC members.
On June 19, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley explained the withdrawal, saying that “the U.S. will not retreat from human rights engagement but is no longer able to stay a member of a hypocritical and self-centered organization, which suppresses human rights.” Haley also said that, with human rights suppressing countries seated on the UNHRC as its members, “the worst inhumane regime in the world is escaping the oversight.”
The U.S. has worked for a reform of the UNHRC over the past year. For instance, the U.S. has insisted on precluding human rights violating countries from the UNHRC. Meanwhile, Israel’s “human rights violation” against Palestine has long been on the agenda at the UNHRC, and the U.S. has also called for the UN panel to delete it. Eventually, however, the U.S. government’s efforts were baffled. That’s why the U.S. has now chosen to become the first country to withdraw from the UNHRC since its establishment in 2006.
The Republican Party has seen the UNHRC as a problem since the George W. Bush administration was in office. When the UNHRC was founded, then U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton (currently National Security Advisor for the Trump administration) called for setting a “higher hurdle” to prevent human rights suppressing countries from becoming UNHRC members, but it was not accepted. As a result, the Bush administration decided not to run for a UNHRC membership election.
President Donald Trump, who decided to withdraw from international frameworks including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the Iran nuclear deal and is seeking to have bilateral negotiations, intends to directly press human rights violating countries to improve their situations. During the latest U.S.-North Korea summit, the president brought up the issue of Japanese abductees. In the meantime, however, since the U.S. has played the leading role in presenting human right issues involving China and North Korea to the UNHRC, some fear that that American influence might be undermined.