UN rights office: Milei’s measures undermine human rights

The High Commissioner for Human Rights said state cuts affect ‘the most marginalized’ and urged the government to respect ‘freedom of expression’

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said measures enforced by President Javier Milei’s administration are detrimental to human rights.

“In Argentina, recent proposed and adopted measures risk undermining human rights protection,” Türk said on Thursday during the 56th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Among the criticized measures, he included “cuts to public spending particularly affecting the most marginalized, the announced closure of state institutions dedicated to women’s rights and access to justice, and an instruction from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to suspend participation in all events abroad related to the 2030 Agenda.”

Since taking office in December, Milei has carried out austerity measures which he called “the biggest fiscal adjustment in human history” and closed down the Women and Genders Ministry. He also started to shut down the Center for Justice Access, a state organism that provides free primary legal services in 200 branches nationwide, mainly in impoverished areas.

The 2030 Agenda is an action plan of 17 sustainable development goals approved in 2015 by all UN member states. Some of its goals are related to the climate crisis, which Milei denies is rooted in human activity. The president has also lambasted the UN’s 2030 Agenda specifically, describing it as “cultural Marxism” and “decadence” and claiming it “will only bring misery to the world.”

Türk urged the Argentine authorities “to place human rights at the center of their policy making” and “build a more cohesive and inclusive society.” 

“This also means full respect for the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” he added.

It is not the first time the U.N. has been critical of Milei’s policies. In January, three special rapporteurs said Security Minister Patricia Bullrich’s anti-protest protocol goes against international human and civil rights treaties that Argentina is party to.

Bullrich’s protocol bans roadblocks during protests in an attempt to guarantee that traffic can circulate freely at all times. However, its implementation has resulted in the security forces blocking the roads as well as dozens of arbitrary detentions.

Türk listed Argentina as one of the countries where governments “spend more on servicing their debts than investing in health and education systems for their people.” Turk compared Argentina’s situation to countries like Sri Lanka (where, according to him, the poverty rate doubled between 2021 and 2023 due to the government’s austerity measures), Laos, and Malaysia.
Similarly, the International Monetary Fund, with whom Argentina has a US$44 billion debt, has applauded Milei’s austerity measures but consistently asked his government to “support the vulnerable.”


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