“The United States should not lend legitimacy to an organization that includes perpetrators of human rights violations like China, Venezuela and Cuba,” said Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), a leading member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “In addition, the council continues to disproportionately spend the majority of its time and attention persecuting our ally Israel. The Biden administration will be happy to have joined this flawed body. However, he will have done so without securing the necessary reforms, while failing to support human rights around the world. “
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington would initially focus on “what we can accomplish in situations of great need, such as Afghanistan, Burma, China, Ethiopia, Syria and Yemen. Our objectives are clear: to support human rights defenders and denounce human rights violations and abuses.
Israel is set to lose three main supporters in January – Austria, the Czech Republic and Denmark – but it wins Lithuania and the United States.
Israel is the only country permanently on the UNHRC’s agenda, and the only country to be targeted by a standing commission of inquiry into alleged war crimes, established earlier this year.
Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch, said that after Thursday’s election, only 31.9% of UNHRC members are free democracies.
“The elections were designed to eliminate the worst human rights abusers in the world,” Neuer said. “But oppressive regimes like China, Cuba, Libya, Russia and Eritrea consistently win elections and the seal of international legitimacy.”
Candidates for the Human Rights Council are elected in geographic groups to ensure equal representation. There were no competitive races Thursday to elect 13 new members and re-elect five members. Members cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.
The General Assembly also elected Kazakhstan, Gambia, Benin, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Paraguay, Honduras, Luxembourg, Finland, Montenegro and Lithuania, while re-electing on Thursday the Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia, India and Argentina. The United States received the second lowest number of votes, edging only Eritrea, which received 144 votes.