GNHRE Statement on the Withdrawal of the United States from UNHRC

Statement on the

Withdrawal of the United States

from the United Nations Human Rights Council

In a joint statement of Tuesday 19 June 2018, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the withdrawal of the United States from its membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council, successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights, which was first chaired in January 1947 by Eleanor Roosevelt, is the world’s pre-eminent forum for monitoring, investigating and reporting on the full range of universal human rights guaranteed in international and national law, including those related directly to the enjoyment of a safe and healthy environment.

The Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE) — a broad-based network of concerned experts and scholars working for a better human and environmental future — expresses its deep concern and regret at the United States of America’s withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council for the following reasons.

First, the UN Human Rights Council continues to provide an effective check on the power of Governments that may be perpetrating or tolerating human rights violations, and US withdrawal from the Council seems minimally to signal the current Administration’s diminishing commitment to the UN human rights system and to human rights more generally.

Second, while the Council is admittedly far from perfect, greater US engagement in improving its work and strengthening the global commitment to advancing human rights would have more effective, both symbolically and politically.

Third, US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council is particularly untimely and troubling because the Council has just taken strides towards recognition of the right to a healthy environment as a universal and fundamental human right within international law.

Fourth, the US withdrawal from the Council is part of a wider pattern of failure to engage with global partners on multiple forms of international progress in relation to human rights and environmental protections, including its previous announcement to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, to take effect on 4 November 2020.

This latest withdrawal should be seen for what it is: a negative, retrograde step at a pivotally important moment for a world facing climate emergency, a rising tide of human rights violations and deepening levels of concern for all life on Earth.

Feature image of the HRC in session:

Dina Lupin

By Dina Lupin

Dina Lupin is the Director of the GNHRE and a Lecturer at the School of Law at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdon. Dina is an affiliated researcher in the project “Giving groups a proper say”, supported by the Austrian Science Fund and hosted at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna. Dina‘s current research is on silencing and epistemic injustice in the context of consultation processes with Indigenous peoples and her latest article on this subject can be found here. In 2020, Dina’s book, “Human Dignity and the Adjudication of Environmental Rights” was published with Edward Elgar Press.

Previously Dina worked as a Post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Law of the University of Tilburg researching civil society organisations working on sustainable development in Ethiopia. You can read more about the research project here.

Dina was awarded her PhD in 2017 by the Department of Public and International Law at the University of Oslo. Her PhD was on the concept of human dignity in the context of environmental law and governance.

Dina completed her BA and LLB at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and her Master of Laws, with honours, at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Dina previously worked as a Senior Attorney at the Centre for Environmental Rights ( in Cape Town. At the Centre, Dina represented a range of communities and activists in their battles for more transparent, accountable environmental and water management in the mining sector. She worked on the
legal aspects of acid mine drainage, hydraulic fracturing and was
instrumental in the facilitation of a community activist network in the field of mining and environmental justice. Dina also led the Centre’s work on improving transparency in environmental governance. As a result of her work at the Centre, Dina was included in the 2013 list of 200 Young South Africans published by the Mail and Guardian .

Dina has also worked in the Mining and Natural Resources team at Webber Wentzel, a South African law firm.