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Blinken says US returning to ‘flawed’ UN Human Rights Council

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department, Feb. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department, Feb. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Biden administration has decided to return to the UN Human Rights Council, reversing the policy of former president Donald Trump.

“The UN Human Rights Council is flawed and needs reform, but walking away won’t fix it. The best way to improve the Council, so it can achieve its potential, is through robust and principled U.S. leadership. Under President Biden, we are reengaging and ready to lead,” Blinken tweets.

Trump pulled out of the council in 2018 due to its disproportionate focus on Israel, which has received by far the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country, and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by then-US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

The US charge d’affaires in Geneva, Mark Cassayre, earlier told an organizational meeting of the UN’s main human rights body that the United States will return as an observer. US diplomats say that step comes with an eye toward seeking election as a full member.

“The Biden administration believes in a foreign policy centered on democracy, human rights and equality,” Cassayre told an organizational meeting of the council. “Effective use of multilateral tools is an important element of that vision.”

The decision is likely to draw criticism from conservative lawmakers and many in the pro-Israel community, who have derided the council and echoed Trump administration complaints that it was too quick to overlook abuses by autocratic regimes and governments — and even accept them as members.

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