America elected to the UN Human Rights Council that Trump left

The United States has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the first time since the Trump administration resigned from the international body in 2018, citing what it called “chronic bias” against Israel.

The State Department announced Tuesday that Washington won a council seat for its next term, starting in 2022.

“We will work hard to ensure that the Council upholds its highest aspirations and better supports those who fight injustice and tyranny around the world,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The Biden administration announced its intention to rejoin the Human Rights Council earlier this year in a declared effort to undo some of former President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies that caused the United States to withdraw from various international organizations.

The Human Rights Council has faced bipartisan criticism in the United States Congress for its reports and statements on Israeli abuses against Palestinians.

But the Biden administration has argued that Washington would better serve its interests if it were at the table of UN agencies to help shape the internal debate.

“The Council provides a forum where we can have open discussions about ways that we and our partners can improve,” Blinken said in the statement Thursday. “At the same time, it also suffers from serious flaws, including disproportionate attention to Israel and membership of several states with appalling human rights records.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated Blinken’s message later that day, saying the United States would “strongly oppose” the council’s approach to Israel. But he defended the decision to rejoin the UN body.

“If we are going to help shape the institutions, to help them fulfill their highest aspirations, which is what we intend to do with the Human Rights Council, to help them promote the values, the interests that the United States and our partners share, we “need to be there,” Price said.

The Human Rights Council has 47 member states from five geographic regions that are elected for three-year terms by the UN General Assembly.

The Geneva-based body was established by the UN in 2006 with the aim of promoting and protecting human rights.

The Trump administration left the council three years ago, and then-UN envoy Nikki Haley called it a “hypocritical and selfish organization.”

The previous administration also resigned from the UN cultural body (UNESCO), the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, among other international agencies and treaties.

Blinken on Thursday framed the return to the Human Rights Council in the context of President Joe Biden’s effort to restore Washington’s global commitments.

“From the earliest days of this Administration, President Biden has made it clear that our foreign policy would be grounded in America’s most cherished democratic values: upholding liberty, upholding opportunity, upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms, upholding the rule of law and treating everyone with dignity, ”Blinken said.

However, some human rights defenders they have criticized the administration, saying it has not done enough to hold America’s allies accountable for human rights abuses.

On Thursday there were no competitive races to elect 13 new members and re-elect five members of the Human Rights Council.

The General Assembly also elected Kazakhstan, Gambia, Benin, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Paraguay, Honduras, Luxembourg, Finland, Montenegro and Lithuania and re-elected Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia, India and Argentina on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch rebuked the lack of competition in voting.

“The lack of competition in this year’s Human Rights Council vote makes the word ‘election’ a mockery,” Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

“The election of serious rights violators such as Cameroon, Eritrea and the United Arab Emirates sends a dire signal that UN member states are not taking seriously the council’s fundamental mission to protect human rights.”

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