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Trump Administration's Withdrawal from the United Nations: Reasons and Implications for International Law

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The between relationship the United States and the United Nations has been bittersweet since the appointment of President Donald Trump into office. This essay is will advocate against the Trump administration withdrawal from the UN several bodies, specifically: the Human Rights Council and the World Health Organization by discussing the reasons and implications of such decision. Firstly, it will begin by defining key terms, secondly delve into the reasons why the Trump administration withdrew from the UN. Thirdly, his essay will discuss the implications the withdrawal will have on international law. Lastly, the essay will state the theory of international law and that the Trump administration takes in the decision to withdraw for that UN.

Definition of Key Terms

International Law

According to Koh (2017:415), international law is the law between and amongst sovereign nations that came about through countless public and private multinational actors by developing international and domestic law (Koh, 2017:415). In addition, in managing the lead of states and international associations in international relations with each other and transnational organizations, private individuals and minority groups; for general application, international law comprises of regulations and standards (Beckam and Butte).

Shaw (2008:1) distinguishes between private and international law. According to Shaw, private international law is made up of cases inside specific overall sets of laws, in which foreign components interfere, bringing up issues concerning the use of foreign law or courts (Shaw, 2008: 1). An example of private law would be if a South African finance manager consents to an arrangement in Paris, France, the understanding is liable to French law. This implies that any lawful debates need to tended to by means of French law, not South African law. Public international law alludes to the international overall set of laws, not simply a lawful change of legal system (Shaw, 2008: 1).

The United Nations

According to Whineray (2020: 2), the UN is a forum or an organization of sovereign states, which willfully consolidate to make a discussion regarding peace and security. It assumes a focal part in lessening international pressures, forestalling clashes and stopping battling effectively under way. The UN was established after World War II with the desire to keep away from future conflicts through tact and exchange among states. In order to assist those most deprived with having better lives, the United Nations gives the resources to assist with keeping up with global harmony and security, and to detail strategies on issue influencing the entirety of humankind. All activities of the United Nations are settled by member states since it gives them the component to take care of issues and debates and to follow up on issue of worry to humanity (Whineray, 2020: 2).

The Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council was set up on 15 March 2006 by the General Assembly. It is an intergovernmental body that reports straight to the UN General Assembly. It is an unmistakable element from UN Human Rights, which is important for the UN Secretariat tasked with reporting back to the Secretary-General (Blanchfield, 2019). Moreover, the Human Rights Council was made to supplant the 60-year-old UN Commission on Human Rights as the key UN intergovernmental body liable for human rights. It gives specialized, considerable and secretariat backing to the Council and essentially political body with comprehensive human rights mandate, and a forum empowered to prevent abuses, inequity and discrimination, protect the most vulnerable, and expose perpetrators (Blanchfield, 2019).

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) was set up on 7 April 1948, settled in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a particular office of the United Nations (UN), which is devoted to matters concerning about global wellbeing and also tasked with coordinating control over matter of health inside the UN framework (Caballero et al., 2016). Moreover, it is liable for a number of responsibilities including giving initiative on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries, and monitoring and assessing health trends (Caballero et al., 2016).

Background Information: The Relationship Between the Trump Administration and the United Nations

The United States plays a significant role as a member of the United Nations. The UN was made at the drive of the US after World War II and it is the biggest contributor as it gives the most monetary commitment to the UN's general financial plan. However, relationship between the Trump administration and the United Nations has been a tricky one. The appointment of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States has raised concerns at the United Nations (New York Times, 17/09/2021). It was indistinct and hard to foresee what perspectives of the Trump administration, joined with Republican larger parts in the two offices of Congress. However, signs showed that the UN is going to have a testing or possibly difficult relationship with the US. The UN needed to give close consideration to four regions that were suspected to be influenced by the changes that might come along with the Trump administration - the UN Security Council (UNSC) dynamics, funding, climate change and human rights, and the World Health Organization (New York Times, 17/09/2021).

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The UN Bodies the Trump Administration Withdrew from

Amongst the bodies that the US President Donald Trump withdrew from was the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in October 2017 and June 2018 separately. The United States likewise reported its withdrawal from the World Health Organization on July 6, 2020, viable one year after the fact (New York Times, 17/09/2021).

Reasons for Trump Administration’s Decision to Withdraw from the UN Bodies

The Human Rights Council

Shortly after Trump was appointed as the US President, the administration flagged doubt about the Council and the degree to which the United States should seek after change from inside the Human Rights Council. Later on, the United States pulled out from the UN Human Rights Council in June 19, 2018 (American journal of international law, 2018:748). The withdrawal happened a day after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights scrutinized the United States in a discourse at the Human Rights Council for its unseemly practice of persuasively isolating undocumented families entering the United States. In addition to the reasons why the United State withdrew from UNHRC was that the expressed purposes behind withdrawal went from what the Trump administration sees appearing absence of interest in tending to maltreatments in places like Venezuela and Iran, to allegations of inclination. “On the off chance that the Human Rights Council will assault states that maintain human rights and safeguard states that misuse human rights, then, at that point America ought not provide it with any credibility”, said the U.S. Nikki Haley Ambassador to the United Nations (American Journal of International Law, 2018:748).

The World Health Organization

In April 2020, the United Nations was officially informed of the Trump administration’s choice to pull out the US from the World Health Organization, severing attachments with the WHO in the midpoint of a global pandemic. The US has additionally blamed the WHO for agreeing with China on the episode of the infections, which started in the Chinese city of Wuhan before the end of 2019, claiming the wellbeing and livelihoods of thousands including people in America (The Economic Times, 17/09/2021). Trump stated China has complete power over the World Health Organization and additionally affirmed that the Chinese government attempted to conceal where the Covid-19 pandemic came from. As a result, the U.S. quit subsidizing the WHO while assessing the ties the organization (The Economic Times, 17/09/2021). Moreover, Trump has more than once censured WHO for delaying to react to the pandemic and as well driven by China. Later on in May, because of the U.S. felt about the WHO by asserting that it buckled under pressure from China to misdirect the world when the infection was first found by Chinese specialists and that it's under the absolute control of China, Trump reported the choice to leave the organization (The Economic Times, 17/09/2021).

Implications the Trump Administration Withdrawal Would Have for International Law

The United States is one of the major contributors to United Nations; therefore, the Trump administration withdrawal from the UN will be followed by implication law.

The Human Rights Council

According to the International Justice Center (2018) to the international community, the United States pulling out from the Human Rights Council will be followed by consequence or implications, each perhaps debilitating the Council's capacity to secure and advance human rights. In the first place, the Council might experience a deficiency of validity and the strength of its human rights conversations and projects; secondly, other member states on the Council will actually want to push forward their plans, which will probably incorporate destroying certain human rights projects and impeding human rights protectors from partaking in global forums; and thirdly, the Council will experience a decrease in subsidizing because the United States would lessen its surveyed commitment to the United Nations by the sum that would usually stream to the Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (International Justice Center, 2018).

The World Health Organization

Wang (2020) states that the United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization could unleash significant harm on the global work that has already been done and could sabotage the world's capacity to distinguish and react to any dangers concerning the wellbeing of people that specialists cautioned (Wang, 2020). Moreover, The US administration would be unable to unravel the country from WHO administration and projects as it has unparalleled global reach and authenticity with the WHO. In addition, the USA is likewise a state party to two WHO arrangements: the WHO Constitution, establishing it as the directing and coordinating authority on international health, and the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), the overseeing system for scourge readiness and response (Banswell, 2020).

Theories of International Law: Realism Approach

The Trump approach doesn't esteem deliberate endeavors to decipher existing lawful principles yet rather guarantees that there are no standards that tie America’s conduct. In this perspective, the United States is acting dependent on its apparent national interests, and not follows internationals guidelines (Koh, 2017:417). Moreover, this approach appears to be grounded on asserted national rights, not the general rights on which this nation was established, and that structure a large part of the establishment of modem law (Bellinger, 2019:24). Trump’s approach appears to lay for the most part on hard force, offering no apparent procedure for respective and multilateral strategic commitment, or then again, any orderly job for the State Department. The Trump administration has shown practically zero tendency to apply a methodology that would permit America to use the authenticity of legitimate alternatives into a more inventive arrangement of proactive answers for bring about global issues (Koh, 2017:417).


In conclusion, the Trump administration decision to withdraw from the UN In terms of the above-mentioned bodies affects the operation and the system that needs to take place to maintain order. The withdrawal from the Human Rights Council reduces the validity of the Human Rights Council and questions the capability of maintaining agreements regarding human rights. The WHO received most of the funding and support from the US. The withdrawal of the United States has a negative impact on the rest of the world and the wellbeing of people. The approach that the Trump administration took by withdrawing from the UN shows a realist theory of international law only maintaining the nation’s self-interest.


  1. Caballero, B., Finglas, P., and Toldra, F. (eds.), 2016. The Encyclopedia of Food and Health. Oxford: Academic Press. Vol. 5.
  2. Cambridge University Press, 2018. United States Withdraws from the UN Human Rights Council, Shortly After Receiving Criticism About Its Border Policy. American Journal of International Law. Vol.112(4).
  3. Beckman, R. and Butte, D. Introduction to International Law.
  4. Bellinger, J., 2019. ‘The Trump Administration's Approach to International Law and Courts: Are We Seeing a Turn for the Worse?’. Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law Vol. 51(1).
  5. Blanchfield, L., 2019. The United Nations Human Rights Council: Background and Policy Issues. Specialist in International Relations
  6. Branswell, H., 2020. Experts Warn of Dire Global Health Consequences if U.S. Withdraws from the World Health Organization.
  7. International Justice Resource Centre. 2020. ‘Consequences of the U.S Departure from the Human Rights Council’,
  8. Koh, H. H. 2020. ‘The Trump Administration and International Law’. Washburn Law Journal. Vol.56.
  9. Shaw, Malcolm N. 2008. ‘The Nature and Development of International Law. In ‘International Law’ (Sixth edition). Cambridge University Press.
  10. The Economic Times 2021. ‘US Formally Notifies UN of Decision to Withdraw from WHO’.
  11. Wang, K. K., 2020. US Withdrawal from WHO Is Unlawful and Threatens Global and US Health and Security. Vol.396.
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