US foreign policy

US moves to rejoin UN rights council, reversing Trump anew

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The Biden administration is set to announce this week that it will reengage with the much-maligned UN Human Rights Council that former President Donald Trump withdrew from almost three years ago, US officials said Sunday.

The decision reverses another Trump-era move away from multilateral organizations and agreements.


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US officials say Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a senior US diplomat in Geneva will announce on Monday that Washington will return to the Geneva-based body as an observer with an eye toward seeking election as a full member.

The decision is likely to draw criticism from conservative lawmakers and many in the pro-Israel community.

Trump pulled out of the world body’s main human rights agency in 2018 due to its disproportionate focus on Israel, which has received by far the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country, as well as the number of authoritarian countries among its members and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by then-US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

In addition to the council’s persistent focus on Israel, the Trump administration took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia, and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses.

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