The United Nations Human Rights Council: Is the United States Right to Leave this Club?
Am. U. Int'l. L. Rev. (Aug. 2019), Forthcoming
41 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 9, 2019
The United Nations Human Rights Council is the key global intergovernmental human rights institution. Yet in 2018, the United States quit this body, citing numerous grievances including dissatisfaction with the human rights records of the States elected to it. Here, we explain how and why the Council functions as it does. First we provide an outline of the Council, explaining its composition, mandate and activities. It is apparent that the Council is not functioning as well as it should in promoting and protecting human rights worldwide. We then place the Council in its political context, including the pervasive nature of politicization within the Council, its fundamental North/South divide, and the reasons behind its infamous bias against Israel. Finally, we suggest a way forward. Using the example of the Council’s treatment of sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”) rights as a case study, we argue that the Council’s potential will only be fulfilled when the majority of its Members take proper “ownership” of human rights rather than continue to treat it as a political football within the broader North/South divide.
Keywords: Human Rights Council, United Nations, United States, Israel, human rights, SOGI rights, LGBTI rights
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation