The United States is returning to the UN Human Rights Council three-and-a-half years after its dramatic walkout, which was seized by China for wide-ranging influence.
Tea United Nations The General Assembly on Thursday elects new members to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which has been in office for three years.
Although member states are elected by secret ballot, the election is non-competitive, with 18 candidate countries holding 18 seats.
The Council is tasked with strengthening and promoting human rights around the world, dealing with violations and making recommendations.
But when Washington returns under President Joe Biden, it will come face to face with a strong China that has taken advantage of the US absence to soften its muscles.
A European diplomat told AFP: “The Chinese and all those who are fundamentally against human rights as Europeans understand them … oppose economic, social and cultural rights. This is nothing new. It’s not a trend, but it’s definitely getting stronger. “
According to another, “China’s goal is simple: to end the universal concept of human rights and to emphasize a vision in line with its political system.”
In recent years, China and its partners, including Belarus and Venezuela, have issued joint statements in support of Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, and condemned “human rights violations” in the West. Of
Faced with increasing polarization, some fear that Washington’s return will reinforce the trend and the council will see the dominance of pro-US and pro-China rivals.
Mark Lemon, executive director of the Universal Rights Group think tank in Geneva, said the United States has focused primarily on one thing, which is China, since rejoining the council as an observer earlier this year.
He said the attacks and Beijing’s response were taking oxygen out of all the important work of the Human Rights Council.
“Many countries are fed up, because they do not want to see the multilateral system being held hostage by these big geopolitical power games.”
He urged the United States to expand its focus on gaining the support of developing countries that had warmed Beijing during the US absence.
Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told reporters on Wednesday that he hoped Washington would “hold a constructive dialogue and try not to make human rights a political vehicle.”
The Council in Geneva consists of 47 member states elected by the UN General Assembly in New York.
One-third of the council is elected each year, and countries can only serve for two to three years.
Membership is distributed in proportion to geographical areas.
Eritrea’s appearance among African nominees has once again called into question dictatorial regimes that have a record of sub-council seats.
In June, Muhammad Abdul Salam Babikar, the new UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of rights in Eritrea, painted a bleak picture in his first report to the Council.
He said there was no sign of improvement, citing arbitrary and illegal detention, inhumane conditions in prisons, lack of basic freedoms, and indefinite military service, where prisoners were subjected to forced labor and Is sexually assaulted.
NGOs accuse regional groups of sewing “legitimate faces” instead of real competition in the council, by fielding the same number of candidates as vacant seats.
The executive director of the UN Watch NGO said the election was designed to eliminate the world’s worst human rights abusers.
“Oppressive governments such as China, Cuba, Libya, Russia and Eritrea win elections as usual and are the seal of international legitimacy,” said Halil Neuer.
John Fisher, director of Human Rights Watch in Geneva, told AFP that the regions have a responsibility to ensure that their candidates meet the minimum standards, and that such as Eritrea, Cameroon and the United Arab Emirates. Raise your finger on the nominees.