The withdrawal marks the latest announcement in a concerning trend of U.S divestment from United Nations institutions and multilateral agreements including the 2017 defunding of the UN Population Fund and the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.
The UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, is the world’s preeminent human rights institution with a mandate to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and to address human rights violations. The Council has been a site for progress for LGBTIQ human rights over the past ten years, leading to the recent establishment of the first UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, a position currently held by Victor Madrigal-Borloz.
OutRight Action International releases an organisational statement on the importance of international human rights mechanisms and US withdrawal:
The U.S withdrawal from the Human Rights Council is symptomatic of overall U.S isolationism and a move away from multilateral diplomacy. This administration’s “America First” promise is rearing its head in every foreign and domestic policy decision, including this one.
While the U.S may see reasons for criticism of the Human Rights Council and advocate for reform, the institution has been the central international mechanism of accountability and justice for marginalised groups and people the world over. For many LGBTIQ people, the Human Rights Council and the United Nations as a whole are ports of last call when their own governments fail them.
Without a history of progress on LGBTIQ human rights at the Human Rights Council we would have no progress to speak of within the UN system today. Withdrawing from the Council sends a message to other countries that its acceptable to walk away from the system when it doesn’t suit you to be there. Imagine, what would happen if all countries walked away from the UN because of disagreements?
Investing in multilateralism is not just integral to preserving and progressing human rights, it is essential to promoting peace and security. OutRight believes in the international system and the integrity of the Human Rights Council. We look forward to continue working with everyone who share these values.