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USA: State department's flawed 'unalienable right' report undermines international law

The deeply flawed report by the US Department of State’s so-called “Commission on Unalienable Rights” is a colossal failure for US leadership, which could damage human rights protections globally, Amnesty International said today.

In its submission to the US Department of State’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, Amnesty International called on the US government to renew its commitment to internationally recognised human rights, not only by halting its own heinous violations of human rights, but also by re-engaging with the international community through the United Nations and regional human rights institutions.

Instead, the US government has recently abandoned its seat on the UN Human Rights Council, refused to respond to letters of concern by UN human rights experts, and now is seeking to deny reproductive rights, LGBTI rights and socio-economic rights, among others – which it frames as “divisive social and political controversies” – by unilaterally redefining what “human rights” mean, and rejecting the interpretive authority of UN and other international human rights bodies.

In advance of the UN Human Rights Council’s upcoming review of the United States in November 2020, Amnesty International submitted a list of concerns and recommendations on how the United States should urgently improve its human rights record.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

“While the global pandemic killed over 100,000 people in the United States, the Trump administration has disgracefully sought to abandon its obligations to uphold the human rights to health and freedom from discrimination, among others.

“The US government is not legally allowed to unilaterally redefine its obligations under international human rights treaties, which almost all countries in the world have agreed to uphold.

“The Department of State’s effort to cherry-pick human rights – in order to unlawfully deny the rights of women, LGBTI people and others – is a dangerous political stunt that could spark a race to the bottom by human rights-abusing governments around the world.

“This report, made through an illegitimate process, only further shows the contempt this administration has for human rights and its desire to excise certain rights for political gain.”

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