UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United States won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council condemned by former President Donald Trump and left, joining 17 other countries elected in uncontested votes on Thursday that have been criticized by those countries. to guarantee spots for those whose rights record was poor.
The 193-member United Nations General Assembly elected all 18 candidates proposed by the world organization’s five regional groups. Benin was at the top with 189 votes, followed by Gambia with 186, while the United States was at the bottom of the list with 168 and Eritrea with 144 votes.
“The absence of competition in this year’s Human Rights Council vote makes a mockery of the word ‘election’,” said UN director of Human Rights Watch, Louis Charbonneau. “The election of serious rights abusers such as Cameroon, Eritrea and the United Arab Emirates sends a terrifying signal that the member states of the United Nations are not serious about the Council’s fundamental mission to protect human rights.”
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He said Cameroon’s government has repressed the opposition, quelled dissent and persecuted gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. He added that Eritrean troops have committed widespread atrocities in neighboring Ethiopia’s Tigre region and other serious rights violations, and the rights situation in the United Arab Emirates “remains dire”, leaving prominent Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansour in almost complete isolation. has been imprisoned without, he said.
The Geneva-based Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace a commission discredited by some members’ poor rights record. But the new council soon faced similar criticism, with rights abusers demanding seats to protect themselves and their allies.
Under Human Rights Council rules, seats are allocated to regions to ensure geographical representation.
The United States has criticized Israel’s excessive criticism of the Human Rights Council for selecting candidates with poor rights records on the uncontested slate. This culminated in the withdrawal of the Trump administration from council in June 2018.
When US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in February that the Biden administration was reuniting with the council, he said Trump’s withdrawal “did nothing to encourage meaningful change, but instead was a spurt of American leadership.” created a vacuum, which has been exploited by countries with authoritarian agendas. for their benefit. “
In a statement on Thursday calling for UN member states to be allowed to serve in the 47-nation body, Blinken said the United States should back down with other nations “against attempts to destroy the ideals that have been pursued”. But the Human Rights Council was established.”
He noted that the council has an important role to play in “documenting atrocities to hold wrongdoers accountable”, but added that “it also suffers from serious flaws, including a lack of attention to Israel and the lack of membership of several states.” with a serious human rights record.”
The 18 countries from the Africa Group were Benin, The Gambia, Cameroon, Somalia and Eritrea, elected to a three-year term beginning 1 January; India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Qatar and UAE from the Asia Group; Lithuania and Montenegro from the East European Group; Paraguay, Argentina and Honduras from Latin America and the Caribbean group; and Finland, Luxembourg and the United States mainly from the Western group.