PH won’t follow US withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

Despite President Rodrigo Duterte voicing out his opinions against the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on multiple occasions, Malacañang announced that the Philippines will not be following the move made by the United States to withdraw from the body. 

In a press briefing on Thursday, June 21, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the Palace respects the U.S.’ decision but will not follow suit.

“We’re not following suit if that’s the question. The president has no reaction on what the Americans have decided to do,” Roque said.

The Philippines is part of the 47-member rights council. 

The U.S. announced it was withdrawing on Tuesday, June 19, pointing out the rights body’s hypocrisy and bias against U.S. ally, Israel. 

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called it “an organization that is not worthy of its name.” 

The U.S. now joins Iran, North Korea, and Eritrea as the countries that refuse to be participants in the council’s meetings and deliberations.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein said the move was “disappointing, if not really surprising.”

In a tweet, he expressed his opinion that the U.S. should be “stepping up, not stepping back” given the current state of human rights internationally. 

Zeid defended multilateralism and sounded out on the rise of what he described as “chauvinistic nationalism” as the greatest threat to the world at the start of the Council’s 38th session on Monday — his last session before his mandate ends.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also voiced out his opinion and said he would have much preferred for the U.S. to remain in the UNHRC. 

When Roque was sought for comment on the issue, he said Duterte is conscious about making certain comments. 

“The president is very careful never to comment on sovereign decisions, in the same way that he does not want other states commenting on domestic sovereign decisions,” he said.

He added, “So we leave it at that. That’s the decision of the Americans, so be it.” 

However, Roque said that the decision of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration reflected Duterte’s own views. 

“I guess the latest decision of the United States reflects a sentiment that President [Duterte] himself has articulated and apparently we are not alone in this perception that there is bias amongst human rights groups,” he said.

Duterte has been continually criticized here and abroad for the extrajudicial killings that tarnished his administration’s campaign against drugs. Due to this, he decided to withdraw the Philippines as a signatory of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. 

The Philippines ratified the treaty in 2011.

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