human rights

The United States is officially backing out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council on Tuesday amidst international criticism of the Trump administration’s policy of separating undocumented children from their parents.

Bloomberg reported that the decision to officially withdraw from the council comes just one day after Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein — the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights — condemned the so-called “zero tolerance” policy in which families detained at the border have their children taken away and put in cages.

“The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” al-Hussein stated.

The condemnation from the UN’s top human rights official comes after a statement by the commissioner’s office issued earlier this month criticizing the United States for taking children away from their parents at the border.

“[The policy] amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child,” said Ravina Shamdasani, who is a spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Shamdasani’s statement drew the scorn of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who called the UN hypocritical in its condemnation.

“Once again, the United Nations shows its hypocrisy by calling out the United States while it ignores the reprehensible human rights records of several members of its own Human Rights Council,” Haley said, seemingly referring to member countries with problematic human rights records like China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

The US, however, is likely in the spotlight due to a recently leaked audio recording of children caged at an unnamed Border Patrol facility purportedly near the Texas/Mexico border. In the recording, children reportedly as young as four years old — according to the unnamed source who initially leaked it — are heard crying for their parents while a Border Patrol agent mocks them.

It’s not entirely unexpected that the US would withdraw from the council. According to Bloomberg, National Security Advisor John Bolton — who was UN Ambassador during the George W. Bush administration — opposed the creation of the council as early as 2006.


Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.

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