At various times, President-elect Donald Trump has favored positions and rhetoric that, to put it mildly, has made United Nations human rights officials a bit uneasy. He’s spoken positively of military interrogation tactics that much of the world considers torture. He’s demonized minority groups across the globe.
But, should Trump act on that rhetoric, those officials are planning a strategy to confront the administration in order to stop an international abandonment of human rights principles that have been lead by the United States itself for more than half a century, according to Foreign Policy Magazine.
“We are going to speak up,” an unnamed UN official told Foreign Policy in a report published Tuesday. “It’ll be rough, but if [Trump] puts any of those ghastly campaign pledges into action we will condemn.”
The UN officials said that their primary concern is that, should the United States step back from human rights principles, the rest of the world will feel as though they can do the same. UN human rights officials, including High Commissioner Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, view the international body as a potential frontline against human rights abuses should Trump’s campaign pledges play out during his presidency.
It is not certain how committed Trump actually is to those pledges, however. In an interview with the New York Times Tuesday, for instance, Trump moderated his views on waterboarding (which is viewed by many as torture), saying that he had reconsidered his position after speaking with retired Marine Corps General James N. Mattis, who told him that it was not a particularly useful tactic to get people to talk and that a pack of cigarettes and some beer were generally just as likely to elicit good information. Trump has also seemingly recalibrated some of his positions on mass deportations, as well.
At the same time, other members of Trump’s inner circle have pushed those pledges, leading to uncertainty as to how the president-elect will proceed.