Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Antonio Guterres

U.N. secretary general Antonio Guterres condemned "the perverse phenomenon of populism and extremism feeding off each other" on Monday. (Photo: AP)

Disdain for Human Rights "A Disease That's Spreading," Warns UN Chief

Warning comes as Trump administration reportedly considers pulling out of UN Human Rights Council

Nika Knight

"Disregard for human rights is a disease, and it is a disease that is spreading," warned United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a keynote address as the U.N. Human Rights Council (OHCHR) opened its main session on Monday.

"We are increasingly seeing the perverse phenomenon of populism and extremism feeding off each other in a frenzy of growing racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of intolerance," Guterres said, referring to growing intolerance in the U.S. and Europe as far-right figures such as President Donald Trump gain power.

In his remarks, Guterres particularly singled out the rights of migrants and refugees as "under attack." The speech came weeks after the Trump administration barred refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries in a sweeping travel ban, and amidst a U.S. government onslaught against undocumented immigrants.

Indeed, Guterres' comments echoed a report published last week by Amnesty International, which found that Trump's rhetoric has made the world "darker" and "more unstable," as Common Dreams reported.

"The Human Rights Council must be part of the cure," Guterres said.

Following Guterres' speech, OHCHR chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein spoke and condemned "reckless political profiteers" who threaten not only human rights, but the "very future of our planet."

"We will not sit idly by," Zeid said during his speech. "And our rights, the rights of others, the very future of our planet cannot, must not, be thrown aside by these reckless political profiteers."

Zeid also urged nations to resist those who "threaten the multilateral system or intend to withdraw from parts of it."

Indeed, Zeid's and Guterres' warnings came as rumors fly that the Trump administration is considering pulling out of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

An unnamed former state department official reportedly told Politico: "There's been a series of requests coming from the secretary of state's office that suggests that [Secretary of State Rex Tillerson] is questioning the value of the U.S. belonging to the Human Rights Council." The unnamed official blamed the council's stance on Israel and "doubts about its usefulness" for the potential decision to withdraw.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Filibuster Reform for Debt Ceiling Fight But Not Voting Rights or Reproductive Freedom?

"If our senators are willing to suspend the filibuster to protect our economy, they should be willing to suspend it to protect our democracy and our freedom to vote."

Jessica Corbett ·

As Senate Holds Guantánamo Hearing, Biden Urged to 'Finally End This Chapter of Injustice'

"Guantánamo is a centerpiece of the forever wars. It is a shameful symbol of racial injustice, torture, and violations of the Constitution and international law."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Unbreakable Solidarity': Kellogg's Workers Reject Contract That Would Leave New Employees Out of Benefits

"We're not willing to sell our souls for our future employees that are going to work side by side with us but not get the same pay or benefits."

Julia Conley ·

Trump-Appointed Judge Suspends Biden's Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors

"The reason that we proposed these requirements is that we know they work, and we are confident in our ability, legally, to make these happen across the country," the White House said in response.

Kenny Stancil ·

Rosenworcel FCC Confirmation Hailed as a Step Toward a 'Just and Democratic Media System'

"We're immensely pleased that the agency is being led by such a great champion of an open internet and of bringing affordable broadband to everyone in the United States."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo