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U.S. fails to recognize its own human rights' violations, says senior UN advisor

Jun 20, 2021

Washingtonn (US), June 20: The United States, instead of recognizing its own violations of human rights, criticizes other countries with "biased" human rights application, a senior United Nations (UN) advisor told Xinhua in a recent email interview.
"All countries should strive to honor and achieve the human rights identified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the political standards embodied in the UN Charter," said Jeffrey Sachs, who is the director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
The United States falls short of these in three ways. "First, the U.S. fails to honor the economic rights in the UDHR, for example the right of healthcare for all," said Sachs, who is also the director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.
"Second, the U.S. society has deeply engrained racism and throughout its history has violated the rights of African-Americans, Native Americans, and other minority groups," he continued.
Third, the United States failed to abide by the standards of the UN Charter, and was "even invading into other countries or overthrowing their governments," he said, adding that the UN Charter calls for mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
"The U.S. government promotes 'universal values' but, alas, doesn't understand them very well," he said.
From the year 2001 to 2018, Sachs served as special advisor to UN Secretaries-General Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-moon, and Antonio Guterres.
The long-time UN advisor said he is in favor of searching hard to find common ground globally and identify and honor universal values for all humanity.
"I am against the biased application of human rights by which the U.S. criticizes other countries without recognizing its own deep flaws and violations of human rights," he said.
Sachs added that when there are questions and concerns raised about human rights, these should be handled by the UN Human Rights Council, "not by unilateral actions by any individual country."
He also noted that he doesn't believe that countries should make unilateral threats and unilateral sanctions -- as the United States has imposed on many countries -- or impose unilateral tariffs, as the United States did on Chinese products.
"If there are to be sanctions, they should be applied by the UN, according to the UN Charter, rather than by individual nations," Sachs said.
He noted that as this is the 21st century, it is "very important" that scholars and moral leaders of all nations actively discuss the idea of universal values, in order to find areas of agreement across cultures and nations.
Calling the UDHR a very important "starting point," Sachs said the declaration was based on the values of many cultures.
"I think that it is important for all countries -- the U.S., China, the European Union, and others -- to live by the standards of multilateralism, including the two key pillars, the UDHR and the UN Charter," Sachs said.
"In that way, we can have a world of peace, cooperation, prosperity and human dignity," he added.
Source: Xinhua