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The U.S. hypocrisy on human rights
September 27,2019   By:CGTN
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Sept. 27, 2019 -- On September 12, the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council held a workshop to discuss the unilateral coercive measures related to human rights. Many participating countries and NGOs condemned the western countries’ unilateral coercive sanctions and considered it as a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and in the meantime damaged international equality and justice. These sanctions have become a kind of “collective punishment” towards the people of sanctioned countries.  
 
There is no doubt this discussion is very important. But except for the unilateral coercive measures, we should also pay attention to the new development in the human rights sanction field. 
 
This refers to the "Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act" which came into force in December 2016 in the United States. It began to directly sanction individuals who violated human rights in other countries instead of targeting governments as it used to do. The United States sanctions those individuals by formulating blacklists, blocking visas, and freezing assets in the U.S.  

This shows the U.S. human rights sanction has changed greatly in terms of targets and methods. It has made great impacts on international society and facilitated the birth of its "European version" and "Canada version", thus forming a multilateral-participating sanction system in the world. This new Act may allow the U.S. evade moral consequences which have been blamed before, such as the "collective punishment" towards the people of sanctioned countries.
 
This kind of new development should not come as a surprise to the world though. The United States always acts in its own way in dealing with human rights issues. When the UN Human Rights Council was established in 2006, the Bush Administration refused to join as a member state. It was only until 2009 did the U.S. joined the council, but the Trump Administration declared to exit the Human Rights Council in 2018, because of the so-called Council’s prejudice against Israel and failure to effectively protecting human rights.  
 
To some extent, this action has marked the U.S. exiting from the current global human rights governance framework. However, it does not mean that the U.S. no longer concerns about human rights or participate in international human rights governance. It just means that the U.S. decided to participate in international human rights affairs in its own way.  
 
The United States regards itself as the "defender of human rights" all the time and sees itself standing on the commanding heights of international morality, assuming the responsibility to supervise and criticize the human rights situation of other countries.  
 
The United States publishes a human rights report evaluating the situation in other countries annually. An important characteristic of American human rights policy and practice is its double standard. The U.S. believes that it owns the highest human rights standard and best human rights protection practice, so it should be the example for other countries. But in fact, America has very serious human rights problems.  
 
According to the American human rights report 2018 written by the China Society for Human Rights Studies, there are at least 8 human rights problems in the United States, such as civil rights violations, income inequality and racial and gender discrimination, but the U.S. has turned a deaf ear to all of them while focusing on the human rights problems of other countries. 
 
Besides, the United States also often use double standards to treat other countries differently based on strategic considerations. The strategic importance of a country often influences American human rights policy towards the country. This means the United States treats traditional allies and other countries differently.
 
During the Cold War, the United States even actively established alliances with some countries that had bad human records but geopolitical importance. The United States has exited the UN Human Rights Council in order to protest the council’s so-called prejudice against Israel, a traditional ally.  
 
In fact, the reason why the United States refused to join the Human Rights Council in 2006 is also "the Council’s hostility to Israel." But for those countries which the United States regards as potential competitors, the United States usually uses the magnifying lens to find their human rights problems and derogate their international image in order to contain their rise. China is a case in point. It is important for the U.S. to face up to its own human rights issues first.  
 
By: Luo Yanhua
 
Editor's note: Luo Yanhua is a professor at the School of International Studies at Peking University. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.