Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Protester in London demonstrating against China's campaign of human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims. Photo: Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several of the 15 countries elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday have themselves been condemned for serious human rights abuses, including China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia and Uzbekistan.

The big picture: The intergovernmental body of 47 countries is responsible for "the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe." The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Human Rights Council in 2018, citing alleged bias against Israel and a pattern of allowing corrupt and repressive regimes to serve in its ranks.

What they're saying: “Electing these dictatorships as UN judges on human rights is like making a gang of arsonists into the fire brigade," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the independent rights group UN Watch.

Between the lines: The 15 vacant seats were distributed between five regions, but only one region — Asia-Pacific — was contested. Most countries within regions typically reach private deals to ensure that candidates can stand unopposed, according to The Guardian.

  • "Uncompetitive UN votes like this one make a mockery of the word ‘election,'" Human Rights Watch's UN director Louis Charbonneau said in a statement.
  • "Regional slates should be competitive so states have a choice. When there’s no choice, countries should refuse to vote for unfit candidates."

Zoom in: Saudi Arabia fell short of the necessary vote threshold to be elected, almost exactly two years after the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  • China, which is carrying out a campaign of demographic genocide against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, earned the least number of votes of any state elected — 139, down from 180 votes when it stood for a seat in 2016.
  • 60% of the next term of UN Human Rights Council members do not meet the minimum standards of a free democracy, according to UN Watch.

Full list of newly elected countries: Bolivia, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, France, Gabon, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and the U.K.

Go deeper: More countries join condemnation of China over Xinjiang abuses

Go deeper

Newly declassified report lays out U.S. strategy in Asia

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Trump administration has declassified a report which lays out its Indo-Pacific strategy, including “accelerating India’s rise,” blocking China from establishing “illiberal spheres of influence,” and maintaining “U.S. strategic primacy” in the region, according to a copy viewed by Axios.

Why it matters: The strategy laid out in the ten-page report, written in early 2018, has guided the U.S. approach to China, India, North Korea and other nations in the Indo-Pacific region for the past three years. Its release sheds light on the geopolitical and security challenges soon to be inherited by the Biden administration.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.