Expert Pitch
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Expert says U.S. withdrawal from U.N. Human Rights Council is not a surprising move by administration

Tina Kempin Reuter, Ph.D., is the director of the UAB Institute for Human Rights and associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and the Department of Anthropology. She specializes in human rights, peace studies, and international politics.

Reuter's comments on U.S. withdrawal from U.N Human Rights Council: 

  • This move is not entirely unexpected. Early in his presidency, Mr. Trump mentioned that he was considering leaving the U.N. Human Rights Council, citing that it was biased toward Israel.


  • President Trump is not the first president to decline to engage with the U.N Human Rights Council. President Bush in 2006 decided not to join. President Obama decided to join the council in 2009.


  • What’s interesting is that during the time that the U.S. was present on the council, anti-Israel bias declined. The U.S. influence on this body was pretty important.


  • The timing of the withdrawal may be connected to the council’s chief’s recent criticism of the U.S. for the separation of families at the border. Which is illegal under international law, however, the U.S. is the only country in the world that is not a party to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under this human rights treaty, it is illegal to separate children from their parents unless there are concerns of abuse or other issues related to the welfare of the child.


  • Historically, the U.S. has always been a defender of human rights. Human Rights in some ways are a U.S. invention. This country was instrumental in bringing forth the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt. The withdrawal from the Paris Accord and now the U.N Human Rights Council sends a message that maybe human rights are not as important to the U.S. as they once were. The focus of human rights is to protect and increase the quality of life and the standard of living of humans all around the world.


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