President Joe Biden brought the United States back into the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2021, knowing that countries with terrible human rights records, such as Russia, were members of it — which is part of why President Donald Trump left it.
The UNHRC was formed after its predecessor, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, was discredited as a club of dictators. President George W. Bush chose not to join, after the new HRC appeared to be plagued by many of the same issues.
Newly elected President Barack Obama sought to bring the United States into the UNHRC in 2009, eagerly reporting America’s alleged human rights abuses, such as the efforts of states like Arizona to enforce federal immigration laws at the border.
But Obama also failed to reform the Council, and it remained a forum for tyrannical regimes to clean up their own human rights abuses while targeting Israel for condemnation when it tried to defend itself against radical Islamic terrorism.
In 2018, Trump pulled the US out of the HRC, after years of warning it that its obsessive focus on condemning Israel and condoning human rights abuses by members such as Russia and China had completely discredited the council.
In his 2017 address to the United Nations General Assembly, for example, Trump warned:[I]It is a huge embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Trump eventually withdrew the United States from the HRC, concluding that it could not be reformed. Trump’s critics within the Democratic Party and mainstream media complained, and Biden sought to join as soon as he took office in 2021.
Biden’s State Department argued, “[O]Our withdrawal in June 2018 did nothing to encourage meaningful change, but rather created a vacuum in American leadership,” promising to use “the full weight of our diplomatic leadership” to reform it.
Although Russia and China are members, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said, “The Council plays a significant role in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms by documenting atrocities in order to hold wrongdoers responsible.
The Biden administration now plans to urge member states to suspend Russia from the HRC over Ukraine – a demand that Russia, with its dominant position on the UN Security Council and its alliance with China equally dominant, will resist.
Joel B. Pollak is editor of Breitbart News and host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot Sunday nights from 7-10 p.m. ET (4-7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book Neither Free Nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His latest book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is the winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.