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Beyond platitudes and misinformation


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Nilantha Ilangamuwa’s recent opinion piece (‘When Trump dumped the UN Human Rights Council’) is inundated with inaccuracies, misguided notions, banalities and oversimplifications. It’s infeasible to address all of them in a single letter.

Ilangamuwa correctly notes that America’s withdrawal from the Council is unfortunate. Nevertheless, the body hasn’t been operational for seventy years, as Ilangamuwa asserts. It was created in 2006 and replaced the tarnished UN Commission on Human Rights.

Ilangamuwa’s reference to a “US deep state” is laughable and completely inaccurate.

Ilangamuwa wonders what will happen regarding the “US’s co-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka” in light of America’s withdrawal. For starters, it’s just plain wrong to suggest that any co-sponsored resolution belongs to the US. And the resolution – which the coalition government has largely disregarded – doesn’t disappear just because the US has withdrawn from the Council. 

To be sure, any future resolution on Sri Lanka will be significantly more difficult to pass absent American leadership. And it’s hard to imagine the Coalition Government co-sponsoring another resolution. Yet, realistically speaking, another resolution on Sri Lanka would have been highly unlikely even if the US had not withdrawn.

Ilangamuwa asserts that “the Scandinavian countries and their allies have a pivotal role to play in balancing global power and enhancing the rights of every man and woman on the planet”. It’s not clear what this pivotal role might look like or how the rights of every man and woman on earth might be enhanced as a result. 

On the human rights front, the administration of Donald Trump has been terrible. More specifically, Washington’s withdrawal from the Council empowers autocrats and almost certainly precludes any meaningful reform of the multilateral body in the near-term. So, figuring out the best ways to protect and promote global human rights is hugely important. But doing so will require more than promulgating misinformation and regurgitating vacuous remarks about international politics. 

Taylor Dibbert

Takoma Park, Maryland (USA)


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