Kemi Osukoya

February 8, 2021

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Monday said the United States will reengage with the United Nations Human Rights Council, effective immediately, ending nearly three years of absence.

“We recognize that the Human Rights Council is a flawed body, in need of reform to its agenda, membership, and focus, including its disproportionate focus on Israel,” said Secretary Blinken in a statement. “However, our withdrawal in June 2018 did nothing to encourage meaningful change, but instead created a vacuum of U.S. leadership, which countries with authoritarian agendas have used to their advantage.”

President Trump ordered the U.S. withdrawal from the human right council in 2018 after Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. at the time accused the U.N. of bias against Israel.

In its return capacity, the U.S. plans to primarily participate with the Council as an observer, allowing it to engage in dialogue, negotiations and partner with other countries on new human rights laws.

“It is our view that the best way to improve the Council is to engage with it and its members in a principled fashion. We strongly believe that when the United States engages constructively with the Council, in concert with our allies and friends, positive change is within reach,” said American top diplomat.

The resolution to reengage with the Council came from President Joe Biden and it is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to undo the damages done by the Trump administration to America’s leadership in international diplomacy and multilateralism.

America’s foreign policy centered on democracy, human rights, and equality and effective use of multilateral tools is an important element of that vision, the Secretary noted in his statement.

“When it works well, the Human Rights Council shines a spotlight on countries with the worst human rights records and can serve as an important forum for those fighting injustice and tyranny. The Council can help to promote fundamental freedoms around the globe, including freedoms of expression, association and assembly, and religion or belief as well as the fundamental rights of women, girls, LGBTQI+ persons, and other marginalized communities. To address the Council’s deficiencies and ensure it lives up to its mandate, the United States must be at the table using the full weight of our diplomatic leadership,” Blinken explained.

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