Oct 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.S. elected to rejoin UN Human Rights Council after exit under Trump


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has been elected to rejoin on the UN Human Rights Council, the State Department announced Thursday, three years after former President Trump walked out on the panel citing bias against Israel.

Flashback: The Biden administration announced in February it planned to rejoin the council, acknowledging what it called an "unacceptable bias against Israel," but arguing that being a member would help the U.S. advance its own interests.

Background: The council made up of 47 countries and says it is responsible for "the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe."

  • The council has received bipartisan criticisms from the U.S. Congress, and the Biden administration has condemned its "membership rules that allow countries with atrocious human rights records to occupy seats."
  • China, Russia and others were elected to the council in 2020 despite both countries having been widely condemned for human rights abuses.

What they're saying: "The United States stands ready to work with partners and allies to help lead the world toward a more peaceful, prosperous future, grounded in respect for human dignity," President Biden wrote in a statement Thursday.

"Together, we will stand up for the rights of all, including women and girls, members of LGBTQI+ communities, members of ethnic and religious minorities, those living with disabilities, and members of other marginalized groups.
"We will promote accountability for governments that abuse human rights. And we will stand in solidarity with, and continue to work tirelessly in support of, the activists, human rights defenders, and peaceful protestors on the front lines of the struggle between freedom and tyranny."
ā€” President Biden in a statement

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Thursday's announcement the U.S. would look to "push back against attempts to subvert the ideals upon which the Human Rights Council was founded, including that each person is endowed with human rights and that states are obliged to protect those rights."

What's next: The U.S.'s term will begin on Jan. 1, 2022, and last for three years.

Editor's note: This post was updated to include comments from a statement by President Biden.

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