Feb 24, 2021 - World

Blinken says U.S. will seek seat on UN Human Rights Council

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Washington, D.C., on Feb 23.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Pete Marovich/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday the U.S. will seek election to the United Nations Human Rights Council next year after the country left the body during the Trump administration.

Why it matters: The council is a body of 47 countries and is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the globe.

Context: The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the council in 2018.

What they're saying: Blinken acknowledged criticisms of the council, saying it has an "unacceptable bias against Israel and membership rules that allow countries with atrocious human rights records to occupy seats they do not merit."

  • "However, improving the Council and advancing its critical work is best done with a seat at the table," Blinken said.
  • "We seek to return to the Human Rights Council to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners to ensure that this important body lives up to its purpose. We do so with determination to listen, learn, and work toward a world in which human rights are universally respected."

The other side: “The UNHRC has revealed its hypocrisy too many times by empowering governments like the Chinese Communist Party and the Maduro and Putin regimes, all of whom are committing atrocities the Council was created [to] fight against," ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in a statement Tuesday.

  • "But, if we are not on the field, then we cannot win the game. Our participation must be focused on implementing significant reforms, especially eliminating the clear bias against Israel and ensuring the body investigates the genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang without delay," he added.
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