The United States is clearly “back” on the international diplomatic scene. As expected, the Americans have officially made it known that they are running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). This announcement, Wednesday February 24, from the head of their diplomacy, Antony Blinken, marks the abandonment of the empty chair policy of the Trump years.
“I am pleased to announce that the United States will seek a seat on the Human Rights Council for the 2022-2024 term. We humbly request the support of all UN member countries in our wish to sit again in this institution ”Mr. Blinken said during a videoconference speech to the Human Rights Council.
The Trump administration had loudly announced in June 2018 that it was leaving the Geneva-based institution, the highest UN body in charge of the defense of human rights, accusing it of hypocrisy and harassing Israel.
“The United States places democracy and human rights at the center of its foreign policy, because they are essential to peace and stability”, stressed Mr. Blinken. “This commitment is rooted in our own experience of a democracy flawed and often falling short of its own ideals, but still striving to become a more united, more respectful and freer country”, he promised, in a tone that contrasts with that of his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, who sometimes bordered on arrogance.
While Mr. Blinken praised the usefulness of the Council and underlined its importance, in particular for quickly drawing attention to crises, he nevertheless warned its members.
“We encourage the human rights council to look into the way it operates and that also means the disproportionate attention given to Israel”, he warned, suggesting to treat Israel and the Palestinian territories the same as any other country. “Those with the worst human rights record should not be members of this Council”, he said.
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