The United States regained its seat on the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, but the Trump administration abandoned it in 2018 because it called it hypocrisy and anti-Israeli prejudice.
The Biden administration, which has taken a far more supportive position towards the United Nations than its predecessor, is seeking to rejoin the 47-member council if the United States is a member of the United States seeking internal change. He argued that US interests would be better served.
The United States won a three-year term in one of the 18 vacant seats in the council starting in January, with a vote of 193 general assembly.
The Geneva-based council is considered to be the most important human rights group in the world. Although it has no criminal enforcement or sanctions authority, the council can conduct investigations that help shape the country’s global image. If they are considered to have poor rights records, it can also affect their behavior.
However, the council has a wide range of critics who claim that many of the elected members are human rights abusers, pointing out examples such as China, Russia, Cuba and Venezuela. The existence of such a country in the council undermines the legitimacy of its activities, critics say.
Many also oppose a permanent item on the council’s agenda on infringement in the Palestinian Territories. This is the basis of numerous resolutions condemning Israel.
The successful re-entry of the Biden administration to the council may challenge its stated goal of strengthening American human rights protection around the world. If many conservative Republicans oppose rejoining and Republicans win the White House in 2024, there is no guarantee that the United States will not leave the council again.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced in February last year that the Biden administration would regain seats in the council, “a member who admits that countries with unacceptable prejudice against Israel and cruel human rights records occupy seats. He acknowledged what he called the task, such as the rules. They have no merit. “
But he said, “improving the council and doing its important work is best done by sitting at the table.”
Some countries with inadequate or suspicious human rights records also won council seats on Thursday, as if emphasizing the issues cited by Blinken. These include Cameroon, Eritrea, United Arab Emirates and Honduras.
The return of the Biden administration to the Human Rights Council further reversed its predecessor’s move toward isolation in the United States.
President Biden has revived the US membership of the World Health Organization, rejoined the climate change agreement in Paris, and regained funding for reduced UN agencies. These agencies include the United Nations Population Fund, a leading supplier of maternal health and family planning services, and the United Nations Relief Agency to support Palestinians classified as refugees.
Under the Human Rights Council’s vacant voting system, candidate slate is divided into five geographic regions, and members of the General Assembly are eligible to run for the second consecutive term of the Council. Voting is by secret ballot. To win, you need a simple majority of 97 votes. If the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacant seats, the largest voter wins.
However, this year the number of candidates in each region was the same as the number of vacant seats in that region, and none of the seats were contested. Rights groups outside the United Nations called that part of the matter.
“The lack of competition in this year’s Human Rights Council vote ridicules the word’election’,” said Luis Charbonault, UN Director of Human Rights Watch, in a pre-vote statement. “Election of serious infringers such as Cameroon, Eritrea and the United Arab Emirates gives a terrifying signal that UN member states are not serious about the council’s basic mission to protect human rights.”
Other newly elected or re-elected members included Gambia, Benin and Somalia from African groups. Asian groups Qatar, Kazakhstan, India, Malaysia. Argentina and Paraguay of the Latin American and Caribbean groups. Western Group Luxembourg and Finland. Eastern European Group Lithuania and Montenegro.