UN Human Rights Council to convene

The US will today officially re-engage with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as an observer. The Trump administration withdrew from

UN HRC

Photo: Magali Girardin/Keystone via AP

The US will today officially re-engage with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as an observer. The Trump administration withdrew from the council in 2018, accusing it of “anti-Israel bias”.

The Biden administration now returns to the UNHCR amid grave human rights issues challenging the international community in Myanmar, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Libya and North Korea. Nevertheless, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the body as flawed and recognised that reform is needed regarding its disproportionate focus on Israel. The US ally receives more critical council resolutions than any other country.

In the short-term, the US cannot immediately regain membership. Instead, expect Washington to wait for end-of-year elections to seek full UNHRC member status. While the extent of Biden’s support for Palestinian rights is yet to be fully determined, he will likely challenge the council’s Israel stance. The US has long complained that Israel is the only one with its own special place on the council’s agenda. To change this, the new administration is likely to have the majority of votes on its side to reduce resolutions regarding Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

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