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Biden Moves to Rejoin the UN Council for human Right Led by Leaders with Worse Human Rights Abuse in the World


The Biden administration on Wednesday said the U.S. will seek election to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) nearly three years after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the body, according to a report. 

"I'm pleased to announce the United States will seek election to the Human Rights Council for the 2022-24 term," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the council, according to Reuters. "We humbly ask for the support of all U.N. member states in our bid to return to a seat in this body."

The decision will likely draw criticism from those in the pro-Israel community and conservative lawmakers. Trump pulled out of the UNHRC in 2018 after he accused the world body’s main human rights agency of showing a bias against Israel.

In 2018, a senior official said the council passed more resolutions that year condemning Israel than Iran, Syria, and North Korea combined. 

"As the United States re-engages, we urge the Human Rights Council to look at how it conducts its business. That includes its disproportionate focus on Israel," Blinken added, according to Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Trump administration also criticized the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia, and Venezuela -- all of which have been accused of human rights abuses.

Hillel Neuer, the executive director of advocacy group UN Watch, said the Obama administration had had a "tendency to become a cheerleader for the council." He called on the Biden administration to instead call out the council's "abuses."

Annual elections for three-year membership on the 47-member council generally take place at the U.N. General Assembly in October every year. The United Kingdom was elected as a member and started its three-year term last month.

U.S. engagement with the council and its predecessor, the U.N. Human Rights Commission, has been something of a political football between Republican and Democratic administrations for decades. While recognizing its shortcomings, Democratic presidents have typically wanted a seat at the table, while Republicans have recoiled at its criticism of Israel.

Trump also walked away from the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran nuclear deal, the World Health Organization (WHO), U.N. education and cultural organization, UNESCO, and several arms-control treaties.

Since taking office, Biden has rejoined both the Paris accord and the WHO and has signaled interest in returning to the Iran deal as well as UNESCO.

Earlier this month, Blinken said the U.S. would engage initially with the council in an observer status.



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