Tuesday, March 2, 2021
By Co-Editor, Prof. Margaret Drew
The US has returned to the UN Human Rights Council. US participation was withdrawn during the Trump administration and the Biden administration quickly reversed. The US should expect matters to be different. Until elections for the Council come around, the US will have observer status. Since the US last participated in the council, US human rights violations are even more exposed. #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and Times Up contributed to worldwide criticism of the US from a human rights perspective.
The US will best approach their participation with a sense of humility, acknowledging US abuses while working to prevent future abuses in the US and the broader international community. No doubt the other nations will expect a less judgmental approach to Council business and some will relish in the US being called out on its human rights abuses. Indeed China will soon release a report on US Human Rights Abuses.
Another change in the council is the predominance of China and other nations known for human rights abuses. China's influence accounts for the lack of a UN resolution condemning arrests and other mistreatment of Hong Kong protesters. When those countries that are the most willing to use brutality and the least willing to acknowledge mistreatment of its people control Human Rights decision-making, one has to examine whether the Council has lost its authority and leadership in the world of global human rights advocacy. One writer proposes how the US might break China's deadlock on the council and possibly bring back credibility to the UN Human Rights Council.