Thursday, May 9, 2019

Human Rights Blackout

In case you missed it:  the Guardian reports on the Trump Administration's continued refusal to respond to UN investigators.  On April 25, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to the Secretary of State seeking clarification about this Administration's apparent policy of non-cooperation.  As the Guardian reports, "Over the past 12 months some 24 official complaints have been lodged by UN monitors without a single reply" from the U.S. Government. 

Senator Menendez's letter follows on an earlier letter from prominent human rights NGOs urging the US government to cooperate with UN Special Rapporteurs.  That letter, from January 2019, noted that"Halting U.S. engagement with UN special rapporteurs would set a dangerous precedent that repressive regimes are likely to copy and exploit. The eventual result could be a breakdown of the international human rights architecture that the United States helped to create as a means of strengthening American security, promoting American values, and ensuring a freer, more stable, and more prosperous world."

Some speculate that the U.S. ceased its cooperation with UN Special Rapporteurs precisely because they are so effective.  Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, conducted a well-publicized visit to the United States in 2017, where he was particularly critical of the nation's widening economic inequality, using data, photos, videos, testimony and other techniques to drive home the point.  The Administration vehemently attacked the Special Rapporteur's report.  It was the last time a Special Rapporteur made an official visit to the U.S.

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