Years after walking out of the UN Human Rights Council, the United States has returned.
On Thursday, the United States returned to the UN Human Rights Council, three and a half years after its dramatic withdrawal, allowing China to establish greater influence.
The United Nations General Assembly has chosen 18 new members to the UN’s top human rights committee, with countries beginning their three-year terms on January 1.
The election was a non-contest, with 18 candidate countries competing for 18 seats, despite the fact that member states were chosen in a secret ballot.
Argentina, Benin, Cameroon, Eritrea, Finland, Gambia, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Montenegro, Paraguay, Qatar, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates are among the countries that have been elected.
The council is charged with promoting and preserving human rights around the world, as well as investigating violations and making recommendations, but Eritrea’s election brings up the subject of authoritarian countries on the body once again.
The US withdrew from the council in 2018, accusing it of dishonesty and a fixation with chastising Israel under previous President Donald Trump.
When President Joe Biden takes office in January, however, Washington will face an empowered China that took advantage of the US absence to exercise its muscles.
“The Chinese, like everyone else who is genuinely opposed to human rights as we know them in Europe, oppose economic, social, and cultural rights. Although it is not a new practice, it is certainly gaining traction “AFP quoted a European diplomat as saying.
“China’s purpose is obvious,” according to another, “to demolish the concept of universality of human rights and promote a vision consistent with its political system.”
China and its allies, including Belarus and Venezuela, have issued unified declarations in recent years defending Beijing’s activities in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet, as well as condemning “human rights crimes” in Western countries, especially against indigenous Canadians.
Faced with rising division, some fear that Washington’s return will exacerbate the trend, resulting in the council being controlled by pro-US and pro-China antagonism.
Since re-engaging with the council as an observer early this year, Marc Limon, executive director of the Universal Rights Group think tank in Geneva, said the US has “essentially focused on just one item, which is China.”
Those attacks, as well as Beijing’s retaliation, are “sucking the air out of all of the Human Rights Council’s other critical work,” he said.
“A lot of countries are fed up with the multilateral system being held prisoner by these enormous geopolitical power games,” says one official.
He asked the US to diversify its focus in order to regain support. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.