While US Government Steps Back from International Commitments, Cities Take the Lead in Defending Human Rights
Statement from US National Human Rights Cities Alliance on US Withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council - released June 22, 2018
The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council represents another step backwards for the U.S. government’s role as a world leader. With this move, the United States is turning its back not just on the UN, but on its own allies and especially on the victims of human rights abuses around the world.
As representatives of people’s initiatives in local communities around the United States, the US Human Rights Cities Alliance stands with the international community in calling for the U.S. government to play a more positive leadership role in defending human rights and the UN Human Rights Council.
The Council’s work covers a huge range of concerns that extend far beyond a single state like Israel. It addresses topics that are critical to U.S. security, such as migration and counterterrorism. It established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate abuses in North Korea. It also addresses basic principles central to core American values, such as protections for women, LGBT people, people with disabilities and others subjected to violence and discrimination. Human rights violations are key drivers of international migration, and many of those arriving at U.S. borders are fleeing various forms of violence and persecution. So, if this Administration is truly concerned about addressing its immigration challenges, the Human Rights Council is the place where serious work can happen to help stem the flows of migrants and refugees.
Recent years have shown that cities have become more important international leaders as they work to address the basic needs of residents who’ve been increasingly neglected by U.S. policy. Nearly 300 cities and counties around the United States have signed on to the We Are Still In Declaration as a promise to world leaders that Americans would not retreat from the global pact to stem the causes of climate change. This serves as an affirmation of the increased importance of local, decentralized efforts of civil society and municipalities to address increasingly complex human rights challenges at all levels.
In addition, more than 50 cities have either adopted or are in the process of developing, local legislation to implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), despite the U.S. failure to ratify this widely supported treaty (Cities for CEDAW). In short, as global changes intensify threats to people and communities, it is cities and their residents—not national governments—that are among the most innovative leaders working to address the needs and defend the rights and dignity of the world’s people.
Despite another setback in our national government’s leadership in the world of human rights, we reassure our international allies and others in the global human rights movement of our unshakable commitment to work together to defend the basic human rights principles upon which we all depend. We bring renewed political will and engagement from local governments and grassroots communities around the United States, and we will continue to support the important work of the UN Human Rights Council.
See also the statement from the US Human Rights Network: