January 1 marked the withdrawal of the United States, again, from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its persistent anti-Semitism and pervasive corruption. While bailing out of this organization is an unalloyed good thing, one of the most significant actions against the UN’s institutional anti-US bias has taken place beneath the radar.
The Trump administration has stopped cooperating with UN investigators over potential human rights violations occurring inside America, in a move that delivers a major blow to vulnerable US communities and sends a dangerous signal to authoritarian regimes around the world.
Quietly and unnoticed, the state department has ceased to respond to official complaints from UN special rapporteurs, the network of independent experts who act as global watchdogs on fundamental issues such as poverty, migration, freedom of expression and justice. There has been no response to any such formal query since 7 May 2018, with at least 13 requests going unanswered.
Nor has the Trump administration extended any invitation to a UN monitor to visit the US to investigate human rights inside the country since the start of Donald Trump’s term two years ago in January 2017. Two UN experts have made official fact-finding visits under his watch – the special rapporteurs on extreme poverty and privacy – but both were invited initially by Barack Obama, who hosted 16 such visits during his presidency.
The silent treatment being meted out to key players in the UN’s system for advancing human rights marks a stark break with US practice going back decades. Though some areas of American public life have consistently been ruled out of bounds to UN investigators – US prisons and the detention camp on Guantánamo Bay are deemed off-limits – Washington has in general welcomed monitors into the US as part of a wider commitment to upholding international norms.
According to the article, this makes us a very, very bad country
Paradoxically, the Trump administration’s decision to shun the UN’s independent watchdogs places the US among a tiny minority of uncooperative states. There are very few countries that resist international oversight from UN special rapporteurs – one of them is North Korea.
Like the International Criminal Court, the various UN “rapporteurs” are an affront to the existence of nations. No nation worth the meaning of the word should allow any extra-national body to evaluate and critique its processes or try its citizens absent having lost a war and being subject to an occupying power. The very fact that the Obama administration allowed a parade of UN assclowns into the country and assisted them in their work shows the utter contempt it held for the nation. In particular, these rapporteurs seem to have a Cialis-quality erection for the Trump administration. This is from the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty after his Obama-sanctioned visit to the US which wound up last year:
“American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights.
“There is no other developed country where so many voters are disenfranchised and where so few poor voters even care to go to the polls, and where ordinary voters ultimately have so little impact on political outcomes. There are no other developed countries in which so many citizens are behind bars.”
“The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world,” Mr. Alston said. “It will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest one percent and the poorest 50 percent of Americans.
“The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by President Trump and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.”
Screw this guy. Seriously.
These people visit the US for just one reason, to use their UN sinecure as a way of flogging the Ugly American. While their criticism of totalitarian countries is muted on non-existent (read the cringe-worthy suck-up report on China). (As an aside, you never see any of the people bitching about Wyoming having the same number of senators as California complaining that Burkina-Faso has the same power in the UN General Assembly as the US.) Interestingly, no one can point to a single accomplishment by these people beyond producing reports and living the high life.
The UN expert on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, told the Guardian that she was concerned about the silence emanating from the US state department. Having been appointed to the post in 2014, she made five official complaints to the Obama administration and in each case received “timely, thoughtful and constructive responses, even if we continued to disagree”.
Farha expressed unease at the new lack of engagement at a time when so many human rights problems were cropping up in the US, including a homelessness crisis in many cities.
“This suggests the US has abandoned even the most rudimentary forms of human rights accountability, and a whittling away of access to justice for those in the US whose human rights may have been violated,” Farha said. “It also demonstrates a rather inappropriate arrogance, at a time when human rights in the US are particularly fragile.”
Preventing international human rights bodies from investigating the real-life impacts of your policies doesn’t just suggest a cover up.
It tells other countries that they can act on their authoritarian impulses and get away with it.https://t.co/M3WgcqhezV
— ACLU (@ACLU) January 4, 2019
Trump administration signals its lack of commitment to human rights protection by ending cooperation with UN investigators over potential violations occurring in US – sends terrible signal to authoritarian regimes everywhere https://t.co/gKtYmwfC4n pic.twitter.com/PCsrHUVF64
— Iain Levine (@iainlevine) January 4, 2019
The Trump administration non-cooperation with U.N. human rights experts sets a new low and sends another dangerous message encouraging other countries to ignore their international human rights obligations. The new Congress should take note and act. https://t.co/NOjkud6fJE
— Jamil Dakwar (@jdakwar) January 4, 2019
FACT: the US is not accountable to some UN bureaucrat for anything. The fact that we formerly allowed these people in and gave them official cooperation is a mark of how degraded our sovereignty has become. I hope this is just the beginning of a policy of refusing all recognition of and cooperation with these busybodies.
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