Joe Biden to Officially Rejoin U.N. Human Rights Council

US President Joe Biden holds a roundtable discussion with Black essential workers in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, February 23, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Wednesday officially announced its intention to return to the U.N. Human Rights Council after Trump’s administration left the organization, describing it as a “poor defender of human rights.”

In a released statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the U.S. hopes to rejoin the council at the beginning of 2022. Elections of any new members to the council, including the U.S., take place in October of 2021.

“We seek to return to the Human Rights Council to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners to ensure that this important body lives up to its purpose. We do so with determination to listen, learn, and work toward a world in which human rights are universally respected.” Blinken said.

Former Ambassador Nikki Haley, Trump’s envoy to the U.N., said in 2018, the U.S. had given the human rights body “opportunity after opportunity” to make changes before exiting. She lambasted the council at the time for “its chronic bias against Israel” and lamented the fact that its membership includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” Haley said.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bluntly echoed, “The Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights.”


The 2018 announcement to leave the council came after U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents, a program the Obama administration began and one which Trump’s administration ended.

The return to the council by the Biden administration is a pattern of canceling Trump’s “America First” policies, which President Joe Biden detailed on February 4, 2021, in a speech to the State Department.

Despite the repeated assertions he would refocus his efforts on global leadership, Biden argued it was all for the sake of the interests of the American people.

“We do it because it is in our own naked self-interest,” he said, adding, “America cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage.”

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