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US formally rejoins controversial UN Human Rights Council

The US was elected on Thursday in an uncontested poll of member international locations by the UN General Assembly. President Joe Biden had stated he would return the US to the Geneva-based group. Cameroon, Eritrea and the United Arab Emirates additionally joined the Human Rights Council on Thursday regardless of issues over their very own home information voiced by human rights organizations.

The US acquired 168 votes, a slight drop from what different international locations acquired to get three-year phrases.

The UN Human Rights Council describes itself as “an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.”

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated in a press release celebrating the American reentry to the council that the US’ preliminary efforts on the council will give attention to Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Ethiopia, Syria and Yemen. She stated the US’ objectives might be to “stand with human rights defenders and speak out against violations and abuses of human rights.”

“More broadly, we will promote respect for fundamental freedoms and women’s rights, and oppose religious intolerance, racial and ethnic injustices, and violence and discrimination against members of minority groups, including LGBTQI+ persons and persons with disabilities,” she continued, including that the US “will press against the election of countries with egregious human rights records and encourage those committed to promoting and protecting human rights both in their own countries and abroad to seek membership.”

Notably, Thomas-Greenfield stated the US “will oppose the Council’s disproportionate attention on Israel, which includes the Council’s only standing agenda item targeting a single country. ”

Then-US Ambassador the UN Nikki Haley accused the council of bias towards Israel and failing to carry human rights abusers accountable when the US left the panel in 2018.

“For too long,” Haley stated in 2018, “the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias.”

“Human rights abusers continue to serve on, and be elected to, the council,” she stated. “The world’s most inhumane regimes proceed to flee its scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing scapegoating of nations with constructive human rights information in an try to distract from the abusers in its ranks.

Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, introduced the US would reengage with the council in February.

There are 47 member states on the council, and present members embody international locations which were accused of grave human rights abuses corresponding to China, Russia and Venezuela.

In a press release issued Thursday, Blinken acknowledged the US readmission into the group and acknowledged that the council “suffers from critical flaws, together with disproportionate consideration on Israel and the membership of a number of states with egregious human rights information.”

“Together, we should push again towards makes an attempt to subvert the beliefs upon which the Human Rights Council was based, together with that every individual is endowed with human rights and that states are obliged to guard these rights,” Blinken added.

The council has lengthy been criticized for together with international locations with tarnished information on defending human rights in their very own territory. Ahead of Thursday’s vote on the UN, the non-governmental group Human Rights Watch warned {that a} noncompetitive election “just about ensures seats for candidate international locations with abysmal rights information,” calling on UN member international locations to chorus from voting for Cameroon, Eritrea, United Arab Emirates particularly amongst others.

And the American Civil Liberties Union urged the Biden administration to prioritize human rights in home coverage following the US’ reelection to the council.

“President Biden throughout his presidential marketing campaign promised to reestablish relations with worldwide companions and middle human rights at residence and overseas beneath his administration and to guide by the ability of instance,” the ACLU statement said. “However, regardless of the election to the council, the United States’ human rights file stays very problematic, not least as a result of the nation hasn’t but ratified or totally carried out key worldwide human rights treaties and didn’t implement suggestions made by regional and world human rights our bodies.”

The US’ reelection to the Human Rights Council is the most recent effort to revive US standing on the worldwide stage by means of involvement in multilateral organizations and treaties spurned by the Trump administration. Biden reversed the US departure from the World Health Organization and the Paris local weather accords.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

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