U.S. to reengage with U.N. Human Rights Council as ‘observer’

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday that the U.S. will reengage with the United Nations Human Rights Council, marking another reversal of Trump administration policy.

The U.S. will engage initially with the council in an observer status, not one of the full members on the board, which are elected by the U.N. General Assembly. Observer status will allow the U.S. to speak with the council, partner with other nations to introduce resolutions and participate in negotiations.

The U.S. withdrew from the council in 2018 after it blasted the Trump administration’s child separation policy. The U.S. also did not engage with the council under President George W. Bush, though the Obama administration did work with it.

The U.S. has long been critical of the council’s demands for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territories.

“We recognize that the Human Rights Council is a flawed body, in need of reform to its agenda, membership, and focus, including its disproportionate focus on Israel,” Blinken said in the statement released Monday morning. “However, our withdrawal in June 2018 did nothing to encourage meaningful change, but instead created a vacuum of U.S. leadership, which countries with authoritarian agendas have used to their advantage.”

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