For the first time in years, the United Nations’ committee on racism will not contain anyone from the U.S.
According to a report from POLITICO on Saturday, the White House blocked the renomination of human rights lawyer Gay McDougall, who had served on the committee since 2015. The White House has not announced why it failed to renominate McDougall, or why it opted not to nominate anyone else to the 18-member commission. POLITICO reported that State Department officials had already informed McDougall that she would be renominated before the White House abruptly nixed the move.
McDougall, who was originally nominated by former president Barack Obama, is widely regarded as an expert on international human rights. She has recently spent much of her time highlighting the ongoing plight of Uighurs and other Muslim populations in western China, where an estimated 1 million or more Muslims are currently held in internment camps and forced to praise the Chinese Communist Party.
McDougall will serve out the remainder of her four-year term, but will be forced to leave the panel this fall.
The commission, formally titled the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, focuses on helping implement anti-racism statutes and policies across the world. Consisting of independent experts from multiple countries, the committee — which meets multiple times per year — also publishes recommendations on reducing racial discrimination.
The move comes as concerns about Trump’s racist language, and continuing appeal to racists across the country, continue to swell. Just a few days ago, Trump tweeted out an incendiary video of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), which many detractors perceived as both bigoted and racist toward a minority member of Congress.
The tweet also came a few weeks after Trump downplayed the threat of white nationalism yet again, and almost two years after he described the Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist rally as a march full of “very fine people, on both sides.” (The president, of course, jump-started his political career with the racist “birther” movement years ago.) The White House followed Trump’s comments by announcing in late 2018 that it would not renew funding programs designed to counter white nationalist violence in the U.S., even canceling outright a grant to Life After Hate, an organization dedicated solely to fighting white supremacist ideology.
The failure to renominate McDougall also comes amidst two years of Trump’s White House undercutting America’s role in international bodies and agreements. From walking away from the Paris Climate Accords to abandoning the Iran nuclear deal, to even withdrawing from the United Nations’ International Court of Justice and Human Rights Council, the Trump administration has steadily eroded American standing in multi-nation bodies.
And now, without a member nominated to the U.N.’s commission on combating racism, the most openly racist administration in decades has only further entrenched its policy preferences.