Washington, D.C. (Feb. 8, 2021) – Better World Campaign President Peter Yeo issued the following statement on the U.S. government decision to rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council as an observer:
“Re-engaging with the United Nations Human Rights Council is a smart and strategic decision for our country and the world.
“In the past, U.S. involvement has strengthened the council’s commitment to bedrock American principles like freedom of association, assembly and religion and ensured better protection for the rights of at-risk populations.
“U.S. engagement on the council prevents ceding our influence to countries like China, that don’t share our belief in universal human rights. When we forfeited our seat on the Council, it only empowered countries like China, Venezuela, and Russia, and they took clear advantage of our absence. It is past time we stand with allies again and push back against those countries which seek to weaken human rights.
It has also been well documented that U.S. participation is a “game-changer” in terms of improving the Human Rights Council’s performance with respect to country-specific scrutiny in nations like Iran, North Korea and Myanmar (Burma) and its treatment of Israel by lessening anti-Israel bias. The Human Rights Council has also played a key role in calling for racial and gender equity, and protecting the rights of LGBT and indigenous people, as well as others in vulnerable populations.
“In addition, U.S. engagement increases the chance for reform. We know that the best way to achieve necessary reforms is by having a seat at the table, using American leadership to argue for change.
“Going forward, we hope the U.S. will run for seat on the Council. We also urge the Administration and Congress to work quickly to address the $90 million in Human Rights Council and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights related arrears that accrued during the Trump Administration. This will only strengthen our hand in helping both bodies better advance key human rights principles and ensure necessary reforms are made.”
About the Better World Campaign
The Better World Campaign, an initiative of the Better World Fund, works to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. It encourages U.S. leadership to enhance the UN’s ability to carry out its invaluable international work on behalf of peace, progress, freedom, and justice. For more information, visit www.betterworldcampaign.org.
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