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U.S. Withdrawal from Human Rights Council Undermines Accountability

Physicians for Human Rights opposes move, calling it counterproductive and damaging

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is deeply disappointed and concerned by the United States government’s decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, a move it called counterproductive and damaging. 

“The Council’s dedicated mission to advance human rights around the globe is more crucial than ever and its legitimacy is enhanced by the United States’ participation. A decision to withdraw from this vital body undermines the international community’s ability to take collective action against grave human rights abuses. It also sends a disturbing message that the United States is willing to turn a blind eye to human rights violations at home and abroad,” said PHR’s director of programs, Homer Venters, MD. 

“With current investigations into alleged atrocities in Myanmar against the Rohingya, a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and assaults on health care and civilians in Syria, including chemical attacks, there is no time more pressing than the present for nations to redouble their efforts to unite in defending human rights around the world. 

“Equally, the United States must uphold accountability for its own human rights record, currently challenged by the forced separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border and the continued operation of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, among others. This latest move is part of the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle longstanding institutions, alliances, and norms and to undermine accountability for its own human rights violations,” said Venters.

PHR acknowledges that the UN Human Rights Council faces significant challenges within its own body, which need addressing, and that appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that the Council’s structure and process reflect its vision and mission. But PHR firmly believes that the United States must remain on the Council to participate in any such improvements and to lend its voice to the common cause of combatting human rights violations.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.