US withdrawal from UN unlikely, though rulebook is out - Helen Clark

Drive 21/06/2018
Donald Trump and Helen Clark.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark thinks it’s more likely that the United States will stop paying fees to the United Nations (UN), rather than pulling out altogether.

The US confirmed its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council just a day after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the US to end its “unconscionable” policy of forcibly separating families at the US-Mexico border.

The rulebook has been thrown out the window.

The move has caused a stir in the international community, with many wondering what would happen if US President Donald Trump chose to pull out of the UN completely.

Ms Clark told RadioLIVE that while the US has legitimate points it wants to make about human rights, pulling out of the Human Rights Council “doesn’t really serve any useful purpose”.

“… Unless people of good will stay in and try to make the institutions work, what are we left with? A world that doesn’t have common spaces where important issues can be discussed.”

She said the Human Rights Council is connected with the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, which does “tremendous good” by putting a spotlight on serious human rights abuses.

“This is why the US should be there. Because it has views on many of these issues.”

Ms Clark said it would be unlikely that the US would distance itself from the UN completely, because it carries such a high status with its seat.

“However, we are in very unusual times with President Donald Trump. And the rulebook has been thrown out the window.

“So hang on for the ride.”

Former US President George W Bush stopped paying UN fees under his presidency, leading speculation that Mr Trump could do the same or go even further.

Ms Clark tweeted on Wednesday that refusing to pay fees would be the “more likely course” for the US under the Trump Administration.

Listen to the full interview with Helen Clark above.

Drive with Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen, 3pm - 6pm Weekdays and streaming live on'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.

RadioLIVE.