US withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council – we need politicians to keep talking

Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Responding to the United States’ decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director of René Cassin, said today:

Lasting solutions to the many serious abuses of human rights worldwide will only be tackled by nations sitting down and talking – and, yes, often arguing – about the issues. Like any human institution, the UN’s Human Rights Council is far from perfect, but it does provide a forum for crucial dialogue. By turning its back, the United States risks weakening the global response to human rights violations and signals that it is not prepared to stay and argue its case for reform.

René Cassin is named after the French Jew who co-authored the first great international human rights document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR was drawn up after the Second World War in response to the horrors of the Holocaust, and adopted by the United Nations in 1948. The Declaration was not without its controversies and critics – but the end product, reached through widespread consultation and heated debate by an international community passionately committed to learning the lessons of history, has stood the test of time. 

Politics, national and international, can be difficult. But the millions on the receiving end of human rights violations need politicians to keep talking. So, we welcome Boris Johnson’s statement today that the UK is “committed to working to strengthen the Council from within” and “will continue to support and champion it”.