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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 Beauchamp

"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.


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Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·


Looming US Supreme Court Climate Decision Could 'Doom' Hope for Livable Future

"The immediate issue is the limits of the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases," said one scientist. "The broader issue is the ability of federal agencies to regulate anything at all."

Jessica Corbett ·


Abortion Rights Groups Sue to Block Post-Roe Trigger Laws in Louisiana

"We will be fighting to restore access in Louisiana and other states for as long as we can," said one reproductive rights campaigner.

Jake Johnson ·


Progressives Launch 'Four More' Campaign to Demand Supreme Court Expansion

"In a true democracy, power rests with the people," one campaigner asserted. "And the only way to take our power back is to take back the court."

Brett Wilkins ·


Poll Shows Majority Oppose Supreme Court's Attack on Fundamental Rights

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they're now concerned the court will attack marriage equality and the right to obtain contraception.

Julia Conley ·

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