Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the decision by the US to withdraw from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations

20.06.2018 - Press release

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (20 June) on the withdrawal of the United States from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations:

I am deeply disappointed that the US has now followed through on its announcements to withdraw from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

For us, the Human Rights Council is the central intergovernmental forum for dealing with human rights issues and an important component of the international order. At a time when multilateralism and human rights are coming under immense pressure all around the world, we have a great interest in preserving and strengthening the Human Rights Council. We must make the case for what we believe in within the Council. This means, in particular, insisting upon the universality and indivisibility of human rights and rejecting any attempts to relativise this. We should address criticism of the Human Rights Council’s work from within, not from without.

I would also like to explicitly highlight the successes of the Human Rights Council. For example, the Council set up a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Syria, which has made a significant contribution to documenting the most serious human rights violations committed by all parties to the conflict. The Human Rights Council also played a decisive role in the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, establishing the framework for these efforts. Moreover, it is also an extremely important forum for civil society as it is able to publicly address shortcomings via the Council.

In the past, the US was an important partner for us in the Council with regard to standing up for the rights of people across the world. It is very sad that the US no longer wishes to pursue this common goal in the competent, central international forum.


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