US hypocrisy on human rights and the genocide in Gaza

THE 2023 US Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices was released on April 23, 2024. The report singles out nations like Iran, Afghanistan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Russia and China, among others, for their human rights shortcomings.

These reports are prepared by the US Department of State and aim to assess human rights conditions in various countries worldwide. Although intended as a tool for promoting human rights, they are more often than not instruments of foreign policy, reflecting the political and strategic interests of the United States.

The usual framing and focus of these reports disproportionately highlight the so-called human rights abuses in countries that are geopolitical rivals of the US. At the same time, downgrading human rights violations of US allies like Israel, which is accused of committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Double standard

As far as the report is concerned, central to the discourse is a critical analysis and an examination of the moral integrity and ascendancy of the US in applying human rights to demonize other countries, especially those that do not align with its interests or are not under its influence or control.

Note that the US is often globally criticized for employing a double standard, politicizing and weaponizing human rights for geopolitical ends to condemn countries that do not align with its strategic interests or are not under its influence, evident in the ongoing military conflicts in Gaza and even in the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Furthermore, a significant point of contention surrounding the release of these reports revolves around concerns regarding perceived inconsistencies in how the US addresses human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by its geopolitical adversaries compared to its response to Israel’s actions in Gaza.

These actions, now being equated with alleged genocide against the Palestinian people, raise crucial questions that demand global attention and cannot be disregarded. This prompts an examination of the application of the Leahy Law, which restricts US military aid to foreign military units found violating human rights. The law explicitly prohibits US assistance to units implicated in gross human rights violations, encompassing extrajudicial killings, torture, forced disappearances and genocide.

Israel-Palestinian conflict

The ongoing military crisis in Gaza and the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict are often cited as examples where the US and its Western allies’ application of human rights is selective, inconsistent, hypocritical and full of double standards. The response or the lack thereof from influential nations, particularly the US, reflect a double standard based on geopolitical and strategic interests rather than on a principled stand on international human rights law.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a long-standing geopolitical issue with deep historical, religious and territorial implications. The situation in Gaza is particularly critical due to repeated conflicts, blockades and a high level of dependency on international aid. Addressing human rights violations in this context requires nuanced international intervention and cooperation.

The purported genocide unfolding amid the ongoing military conflict in Gaza is a pivotal issue that demands unwavering attention and proactive engagement on a global scale and must not be overlooked. This issue carries profound significance, highlighting the dire need for international awareness and action.

South Africa’s pursuit of legal action against Israel through the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged genocide against the Palestinians is a profound expression of protecting and upholding the human rights of the Palestinians that deserve the support of the global community and international human rights institutions.

It underscores the importance of accountability for human rights violations and highlights South Africa’s commitment to justice and solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for self-determination. It signals to the community of nations and the people worldwide that South Africa is taking a stand on this contentious issue with the hope that the rest of the world will follow through.

Note that the term “genocide” carries significant legal weight and implications under international law, specifically as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. International legal actions, such as those being taken by South Africa, serve as a means to bring global attention to the severe humanitarian crises in Gaza and could potentially mobilize international responses and pressure for Israel to de-escalate the military conflict, commit to a ceasefire and pursue a political settlement, a “two-state solution,” to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The “two-state solution” is a proposed framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which envisions the establishment of two separate states for the two peoples: Israel and Palestine. Additionally, the US should stop fueling the fire and perpetuating the military conflict by supplying arms and funding to Israel’s Netanyahu government.


The recent declaration by both factions of the US Congress asserting that “ICC arrest warrants targeting senior Israeli figures will trigger US reprisal,” juxtaposed with the release of the US Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, starkly expose American hypocrisy, double standards and lack of moral integrity.

While positioning itself as a global advocate for human rights, the US conveniently and continuously turns a blind eye to the escalating humanitarian crises in Gaza and the ongoing human rights violations and atrocities akin to a genocide perpetrated by the Netanyahu regime against the Palestinian people.

Furthermore, the politicization and weaponization of human rights by the US and its strategic use of human rights rhetoric as a political tool to vilify other nations and advance its geopolitical interests are not only morally reprehensible but also deeply hypocritical. This behavior contradicts the US’ image as a global champion of democracy. One of the fundamental tenets of democracy is promoting and protecting human rights for all.

The US’ egregious reluctance to address or downplay gross human rights violations committed by its allies, such as Israel, is a display of US duplicity. These actions risk eroding the legitimacy of international human rights laws and principles, weakening the United Nations institutions and international human rights laws and mechanisms meant to safeguard the rights of individuals worldwide.

When nations believe that human rights laws are applied fairly and consistently, they are more likely to cooperate with international bodies and comply with international norms. Conversely, perceived hypocrisy or manipulation of human rights for strategic purposes of powerful countries like the US can fuel cynicism, conflict, resentment, resistance and defiance of international law, leading to instability and conflict.

Hence, for global peace and the effective promotion of human rights, the international community must work toward a more balanced and consistent application of human rights standards, ensuring that these principles are not compromised by the strategic interests of powerful nations like the US and its Western alliance.

Source: The Manila Times

Prof. Anna Rosario Malindog-Uy

Prof. Anna Rosario Malindog-Uy is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD), Peking University, Beijing, China. She is currently a director and the Vice President for External Affairs of the Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute (ACPSSI), a think tank based in Manila. She also serves as the political/geopolitical analyst of ACPSSI. Currently, she is a Senior Researcher of the South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI) and a Senior Research Fellow of the Global Governance Institution (GGI). She is also the President of Techperformance Corp, an IT-based company in the Philippines. Prof. Anna Uy taught Political Science, International Relations, Development Studies, European Studies, Southeast Asia, and China Studies. She is a researcher-writer, academic, and consultant on a wide array of issues. She has worked as a consultant with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other local and international NGOs.