The Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), sends the terrible signal that America is abdicating its global leadership on human rights at a time when we can ill afford to do so. Our nation's leadership on human rights is already being called into question as President Trump has expressed admiration for the brutal dictator of North Korea and a new zero tolerance policy at the southern border has led to the intolerable separation of young children from their parents.
The Lantos Foundation agrees with Ambassador Haley that the Council has shown an unconscionable and chronic bias against Israel and too often its actions have, in her words, made "a mockery of human rights." Nonetheless, we believe that we can accomplish more to advance the noble cause of human rights by keeping our place at the table and not simply walking away from it. Only by remaining engaged can the United States use its influence to push back against the abuses of the UNHRC and defend vital human rights in countries ranging from Iran and North Korea to Myanmar and Syria.
In 2006, Congressman Tom Lantos called on the Bush Administration to refrain from boycotting the newly established Human Rights Council, saying the decision to do so, would be a "self-inflicted wound." At the time, he wrote that American diplomats should leverage the tools of the Council to "dismantle the myth of moral equivalency among states that has long polluted the UN human rights efforts." We think Congressman Lantos had it right and are following his legacy in urging the Trump administration to reconsider his decision to withdraw the United States from the UNHRC.