US Returning to UN Human Rights Council

The United States would have a guaranteed seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council after a scheduled non-contest election of 18 candidate countries standing for 18 seats on Thursday.

The US withdrew from the Council in 2018 under the Trump administration after criticizing the Council for its standing agenda item 7 on rights violations by all parties in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

After the three-year US withdrawal, President Joe Biden promised to reverse the US rejection of the UN’s top rights body and would “fight racism and other abuses while making human rights a central pillar of US foreign policy.”

Louis Charbonneau, UN Human Rights Watch Director said the absence of competition in this year’s Human Rights Council election makes a mockery of the word “election.”

Charbonneau added that voting for “serious rights abusers like Cameroon, Eritrea, and the UAE sends a terrible signal that UN member states aren’t serious about the council’s fundamental mission to protect human rights.”

In 2006, the Human Rights Council was created to replace the disbanded UN Human Rights Commission but the US, under the George Bush administration, did not seek membership. 

In 2009, the US finally joined when former President Barack Obama said it would seek “to improve the Council by working from within.” 

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