The Trump administration will not nominate anyone to serve on a United Nations committee on racism, the latest sign of a U.S. retreat from international bodies and traditional human rights priorities.
A State Department official said the White House intervened to prevent the expected renomination of a human rights lawyer chosen by former President Barack Obama for the 18-member U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The official said the Trump administration may simply have run out of time to find a replacement before a deadline. Even so, the official added, “it cements the narrative that the Americans just don’t care about these kinds of things anymore.”
A senior Trump administration official, however, insisted otherwise.
“Although the United States did not nominate a candidate this year for election to the committee, that in no way diminishes our global leadership on efforts to eliminate racial discrimination,” the official said.
State Department officials originally thought the administration would renominate Gay McDougall, the current U.S. member of the committee, a so-called “treaty body” that oversees the implementation of a 1960s international convention on “the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.”
The committee typically meets three times per year in Geneva to oversee progress toward that goal by nations party to the convention.
The move comes at a time when President Donald Trump’s views about race have faced intense criticism, with some prominent Democrats flatly stating that the president is “a racist.”
State Department officials had assured McDougall that she would be renominated. But White House officials nixed the idea days later, people familiar with the matter said.
The White House didn’t provide an explanation. McDougall has spoken criticallyof Trump in the past, warning that his campaign rhetoric could endanger minorities around the world, but it’s not clear whether the White House was aware of those statements.