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Secretary of State Antony Blinken Vows To Recommit U.S. To U.N. Human Rights Council, Which Still Includes China And Cuba

February 24, 2021

Secretary of State Antony Blinken again announced the Biden administration’s desire to recommit the United State to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“I’m here to reaffirm America’s commitment to respect and defend the human rights of all people, everywhere,” Blinken said in a virtual speech to a meeting of the HRC, as quoted by NBC News.

The outlet reported that Blinken “was seeking support for its election to the council for the 2022-24 term,” noting that elections “for three-year membership on the 47-member council are due to be held at the U.N. General Assembly in October.”

The statement comes three years after the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the HRC, with then-U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley accusing the council of “chronic bias against Israel” while ignoring rights abuses from autocratic regimes, which she called “hypocritical and self-serving.”

Earlier this month, The Daily Wire’s Hank Berrien reported, Blinken announced the Biden administration would seek a return to the HRC, tweeting:

The @UN Human Rights Council is flawed and needs reform, but walking away won’t fix it. The best way to improve the Council, so it can achieve its potential, is through robust and principled U.S. leadership. Under @POTUS Biden, we are reengaging and ready to lead.

When it works well, the @UN Human Rights Council shines a spotlight on countries with the worst human rights records and can serve as a beacon for those fighting against injustice and tyranny. That’s why the U.S. is back at the table. When we work closely with our allies and friends, we are able to call countries with the worst human rights records to account in the @UN Human Rights Council. U.S. leadership matters.

At the time, the Associated Press reported that Israel had “received by far the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country.”

“In addition to the council’s persistent focus on Israel, the Trump administration took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses,” the outlet continued.

Former Vice President Mike Pence also took aim at the council in a speech to the U.N. Security Council in September 2017:

The Human Rights Council doesn’t deserve its name. … Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council actually attracts and welcomes many of the worst human rights violators in the world. A clear majority of the Human Rights Council’s members fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards. Cuba sits on the Human Rights Council, an oppressive regime that has repressed its people and jailed political opponents for more than half a century. Venezuela sits on the Human Rights Council, a dictatorship that undermines democracy at every turn, imprisons political opponents, and as we speak is advancing policies that worsen deprivation and poverty that’s costing the lives of innocent men, women, and children.

This body must reform the Human Rights Council’s membership and its operation. As to its operation, I think of what President John F. Kennedy warned more than 50 years ago, that the United Nations must not become in his words a “forum for invective.”

Unfortunately, today, the Human Rights Council has become exactly that, and particularly the Human Rights Council has become a forum for anti-Semitism and invective against Israel. The council’s agenda item seven actually singles out Israel for discussion at every single meeting, something no other country must endure. As evidence, the Human Rights Council has passed more than 70 resolutions condemning Israel, while largely ignoring the world’s worst human rights abusers.

As NBC reported, Blinken on Wednesday praised the HRC’s record, saying it played a “meaningful role” in protecting human rights, but also suggested it needed to look at “how it conducts its business” and reassess its “disproportionate focus on Israel.”

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