US moves to re-engage with UN human rights council in reversal of Trump

- THE GUARDIAN - Feb 8, 2021 -

AssociatedPressinWashington -

Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, speaks at the US state department as Joe Biden listens on 4 February. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Former president withdrew almost three years ago as Blinken says pullout ‘did nothing to encourage meaningful change’

The US announced plans Monday to re-engage with the United Nations human rights council (UNHRC), from which Donald Trump withdrew almost three years ago, as the Biden administration reverses another move away from multilateral organizations and agreements.

Announcing the new approach from Washington, the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said the pullout in June 2018 “did nothing to encourage meaningful change, but instead created a vacuum of US leadership, which countries with authoritarian agendas have used to their advantage”.

“The Biden administration has recommitted the United States to a foreign policy centered on democracy, human rights, and equality,” he said. “Effective use of multilateral tools is an important element of that vision.”

The decision is likely to draw criticism from conservatives and pro-Israel voices, 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.

Blinken said Joe Biden had instructed the state department to “re-engage immediately and robustly” with the council, but he acknowledged it still needs work.

“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,” he said.


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