President Joe Biden will soon announce that the United States is rejoining the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the AP reported Sunday, citing two US officials.
According to the report, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a senior American diplomat in Geneva will make the announcement on Monday. They also said that Washington will seek a full member seat in the UNHRC, since until the end of 2021, the US can only hold nonvoting observer status.
In June 2018, ex-president Donald Trump pulled the US out of the body. Then-US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Council was a hypocritical organization that criticized Israel while concurrently having as members countries that, according to Washington, were gross violators of human rights - like Venezuela, China, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Back in October 2018, when Haley left her post, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked her for the job, saying that Haley "led the uncompromising struggle against hypocrisy at the UN, and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country." Earlier, Netanyahu welcomed the US decision to leave UNHRC, lambasting it as a "biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization."
Biden reportedly believes that the UNHRC should be reformed, but the approach should be to "engage with it in a principled fashion."
Following the announcement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it was a serious blow to the reputation of the United States as a defender of human rights and that it also demonstrated double standards. Russian Mission to the UN described the move as "cynical," adding: "The United States wanted to turn the Council into a handy tool for promoting its interests and punishing unwanted states."
The US decision to quit the council came a month after the UNHRC decided to form an independent mechanism to investigate the Israeli Defense Forces' killings of more than 100 Palestinian protesters along the border with the Gaza Strip back in 2018. Palestinians in Gaza had been staging protests along the border to demand the right to return to their homes now inside Israel. The UNHRC said that the killings could be considered war crimes and need to be investigated.