International Relations Prelims cum Mains

US withdraws from United Nations human rights council

The News

  • The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) accusing it of a chronic bias against Israel.


Reasons for withdrawing from UNHRC

  • Washington’s demand of reforming the council had failed and elimination of an anti-Israel bias.
  • It also comes as the United States faces intense criticism for detaining children separated from their immigrant parents at the US-Mexico border.



  • A year ago Washington was reviewing its membership and called for reform and elimination of a chronic anti-Israel bias.
  • As per the US Officials, UNHRC has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories that Washington wanted removed.
  • The council last month voted to probe killings in Gaza and accused Israel of using excessive force.
  • The United States and Australia casted the only no votes.



  • The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world.
  • It was created in 2006.
  • The headquarters of UNHRC are in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The UNHRC investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states, and addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities
  • The council meets three times a year to examine human rights violations worldwide.
  • It has mandated independent investigators to look at situations including Syria, North Korea, Myanmar and South Sudan.
  • Its resolutions are not legally binding but carry moral authority.


Impacts of US withdrawal

  • The US’s absence will only compound the council’s weaknesses.
  • US withdrawal from the body could bolster countries such as Cuba, Russia, Egypt and Pakistan, which resist what they see as UN interference in sovereign issues.
  • It will make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world.


Other rejections by US in multilateral engagements

  • Paris climate agreement and
  • The 2015 Iran nuclear deal

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