The United States is once again playing political charade at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It’s been pouring out in all its variety to remind us all that there is more to this long-standing political charade than meets the eye. The U.S. government is not in a position to preach China and other nations on the merits of human rights, particularly at the 50th Session of the UNHRC. Examples for this enduring shame are plenty.
In case you have forgotten, misinformation still rules the American political scene. The U.S. is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians across the world in the name of freedom and democracy. Countless reports on the cost in lives of America’s post-9/11 wars state that many people lost their lives in the course of the “war on terror” charade in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. This includes combatant and civilian deaths in fighting, violence and drone wars.
Consider this a rarity that it hasn’t stopped the U.S. government officials from fabricating and spreading disinformation at the UN. America’s human rights problem even forced Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian to react. In his words: “The U.S. is a true expert on playing with disinformation. The U.S. is accustomed to using the public opinion machine and its hegemony of narrative to distort facts, cover up its egregious acts, and evade accountability.”
Put another way, America has a human rights problem. It is still playing a very harmful role in the world with great impunity and no accountability. In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, for instance, U.S. President Joe Biden and his team want to make the U.S. already dominant in the global weapons trade, an even bigger arms supplier to eastern Europe. This comes despite growing criticism and concerns among other nations that the policy will only prolong the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
And if that doesn’t stagger you, note that America’s self-appointed role as the warden of human rights will open the doors to more military interventions and humanitarian crises in the near future, breeding instability and bloodshed almost everywhere. What’s clear is that America’s unilateralism, economic warfare and wars of choice have never been the answer to the world’s never-ending geopolitical woes.
On the home front, let us not forget that many UN special rapporteurs have issued several reports on rights violations in the U.S. The systematic refusal to respond has been made worse by Washington’s policy of fabricating and spreading disinformation about human rights situation elsewhere.
Think of all of this as a single weaponized, well-woven fabrication. Washington’s refusal to cooperate with the UN has left issues including national inequality unaddressed. It has sent a harmful message to other abusers that just like the U.S., they can avoid routine UN scrutiny. Of course, it is unfair to expect the U.S. government to ever achieve a perfect balance in its human rights focuses. But it is fair to expect its delegates not to dismiss such violations at the UN.
No less important, the UN Committee against Torture has also offered worse news. It has catalogued greater violations and raised graver concerns, including racial oppression, systematic human rights violations, police brutality, and failure to close secret immigrant detention centers along the U.S.-Mexican border.
The UN committee fittingly condemns the self-styled “human rights defenders” for failing to comply with international anti-torture treaties, citing indefinite detention without trial, force-feeding of prisoners, holding asylum seekers, mothers and children in detention facilities, widespread use of solitary confinement, excessive use of force and brutality by police, shootings of unarmed people of color, and cruel and inhumane treatment of politically active indigenous women and girls.
Assumedly, the greatest crew of rights-violation aiders and abettors are not attending the 50th Session of the UNHRC to comply with the International Human Rights Law, or make political sacrifices to promote and protect human rights on domestic, regional and international levels. It’s rather immature to think that a country that spends billions of dollars a year to incarcerate over two million people has any plans to give its own people a sense of parity, engagement and empowerment.
The U.S. representatives at the UN may never go that far to acknowledge their government’s abysmal record. They claim no violations exist in the U.S., which is absurd. Such attitude demonstrates a rather inappropriate arrogance. Despite some progress, the gap between declaration and real experience remains wide and stark, and the persistence of that shortfall brings into doubt the sincerity of their commitments and values.
And with that in mind, the U.S. cannot be allowed to play a leadership role in human rights. It has withdrawn from the UNHRC and refuses to cooperate with UN investigators regarding violations in that embattled land. Keep in mind that where there is smoke, there is fire. The self-styled “human rights defenders” only fool themselves when they attempt to militarize human rights. They know full well that their own country has a “flawed and lackluster” record. These systematic violations are still ongoing and there has been little change on the ground in recent memory.
Bobby Naderi is a London-based journalist, guest contributor in print, radio and television, and documentary filmmaker. The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of The Southern African Times.