The United States is returning to the United Nations Human Rights Council next January, after having withdrawn in 2018 under the Donald Trump administration. Washington secured 168 votes, far more than the simple majority of 97 required and will sit for the next three years.
U.S. envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield said returning to the council fulfills Biden's campaign pledge to rejoin the body to ensure it lives up to its mandate.
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, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement after the vote.
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.
Thomas Greenfield added that the US will use every tool at our disposal, from introducing resolutions and amendments to wielding our vote when needed, she said in a statement. Our goals are clear: stand with human rights defenders and speak out against violations and abuses of human rights.
One of the main criticisms of the Human Rights Council is that some of those rights abusers are members of the body, a criticism Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged.
The council provides a forum where we can have open discussions about ways we and our partners can improve, he said. At the same time, it also suffers from serious flaws, including disproportionate attention on Israel and the membership of several states with egregious human rights records.
Eighteen countries ran for 18 available seats on the 47-member Geneva-based council, making the outcome a foregone conclusion and garnering some criticism.
Today's Human Rights Council vote, devoid of competition, makes a mockery of the word 'election,' said Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch. Allowing serial rights abusers like UAE (United Arab Emirates), Cameroon and Eritrea to waltz onto the council to join other serious abusers like China and Russia sends the wrong signal about the U.N.'s top rights body.”
The newly elected members are: Benin, Gambia, Cameroon, Somalia and Eritrea from Africa; India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates from the Asia-Pacific region; Lithuania and Montenegro from Eastern Europe; Paraguay, Argentina and Honduras from Latin America and the Caribbean; Finland, Luxembourg and the United States from the group known as Western Europe and Others.