“I’m pleased to announce the United States will seek election to the Human Rights Council for the 2022-24 term. We humbly ask for the support of all UN member states in our bid to return to a seat in this body, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the council in a video message.
In a separate statement Blinken said the United States is committed to a world in which human rights are protected, their defenders are celebrated, and those who commit human rights abuses are held accountable, pledging that if elected, Washington will use the opportunity to be a leading voice within the Council for promoting respect for human rights.
“Promoting respect for human rights is not something we can do alone, but is best accomplished working with our allies and partners across the globe. President Biden is committed to a foreign policy that unites our democratic values with our diplomatic leadership, and one that is centered on the defense of democracy and the protection of human rights,” Blinken said.
Human rights took a back seat in the Trump administration with Washington downplaying, ignoring, and in some cases even altering abuses and concerns in areas such as torture, reproductive rights and persecution based on sexuality. Allies and partners such as North Korea and Saudi Arabia got away, literally with murder, as the former President pursued what were seen as larger interests, often based on personal likes.
Blinken specifically referred to some of these concerns, saying the US expected the HR Council to support investigations into abuses in Syria and North Korea to promoting the human rights for women and LGBTQI persons and other minorities, and combatting racism and religious persecution.
India was among the countries that found relief from US concerns over its human rights record. Vice President Kamala Harris had been particularly critical of its record, echoing the views of some of the so-called progressives lawmakers in the party such as Pramila Jayapal, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.
The US itself has a dodgy record on human rights with the largest incarcerated population in the world and a ceaseless abuse of its minorities that it has long ignored. On Tuesday, a family in California whose son died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly five minutes during a mental health crisis has filed a legal claim saying they plan to sue the police department for wrongful death of Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Navy veteran who was born in the Philippines. Quinto, said to be suffering paranoia and anxiety, died on December 26, 2020, three days after his encounter with police at his family home.
In a separate incident, police officers who put a hood over the head of a mentally distraught Black man, then pressed his body against the pavement until he stopped breathing will not face criminal charges after a grand jury declined to indict them, New York’s attorney general announced on Tuesday. Daniel Prude, 41, died last March, several days after his encounter with police in Rochester, New York.
The Biden-Harris administration, voted into office partly on the strength of the Black and minority electorate, is trying to address concerns in this area. The US Justice department said it is reviving investigation into the death of George Floyd, whose alleged murder by a police officer kneeling on his neck galvanized support among Black voters for a change in Washington.