The news that the US has completely withdrawn from the Human Rights Council spread like wildfire Friday afternoon (June 6) through the corridors of the Palais des Nations in Geneva. There was general consternation amongst diplomats and NGOS. Reached by phone, the American mission in Geneva neither confirmed nor denied the report. Although unofficial, the news comes at a time of long opposition by the Bush administration to the reforms which created the Human Rights Council in June 2006. Washington announced from the beginning that the US would not be an active member but its observer status would mean that it could intervene during the sessions. To date even this has rarely happened.
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Human Rights Watch is still worried about the withdrawal. "The message is worrying", says Sebastien Gillioz. "Ever since September 11, 2001, the US has constantly interpreted international standards in an "a la carte" manner that has eroded human rights. Its behaviour has served as an example to a stream of states, including Pakistan, Egypt and other, who are not embarrassed to review human rights standards on homosexuality, abortion, capital punishment. It is a step backwards."
The US government has no business sitting on any international body that has anything to do with human rights. This could be the most honest move the junta ever makes.