China, Russia and Cuba won seats on the UN's premier human rights body on Tuesday despite opposition from activist groups over their abysmal human rights records. Reacting to this, the United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo slammed the United Nations for electing "authoritarian regimes" like China, Russia and Cuba into the UN Human Rights Council adding that the US' decision to withdraw from the council has been "validated".
Pompeo in the statement accused the global human rights council of "anti-Israel bias and membership rules that allow the election of the world's worst human rights abusers to seats on the Council." "After our exit, the United States had urged UN member states to take immediate action to reform the Council before it became irreparable. Unfortunately, those calls went unheeded, and today the UN General Assembly once again elected countries with abhorrent human rights records, including China, Russia, and Cuba. Venezuela was elected in 2019," Pompeo said in a statement.
The election of China, Russia, and Cuba to the UN Human Rights Council validates the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Council in 2018 and use other venues to protect and promote universal human rights. At #UNGA this year, we did just that.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 13, 2020
"These elections only further validate the US decision to withdraw and use other venues and opportunities to protect and promote universal human rights," the US Secretary of State said. Pompeo further said that the US' commitment to human rights consists of far "more than just words" adding, that the US "is a force for good in the world, and always will be."
The UN General Assembly on Tuesday elected Russia, China, Cuba and 12 other countries to serve as members of the UN Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting January 1, 2021. This year, elections to the Human Rights Council saw 16 candidates from four regional groups - African, Asia-Pacific, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean and Western European - competing for a seat at the Geneva-based body.
To be elected, a country needed to obtain the required majority of 97 votes, Sputnik reported. Russia and Cuba were running unopposed, but China and Saudi Arabia were in a five-way race in the only contested race for seats on the Human Rights Council. In secret-ballot voting in the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on that race, Pakistan received 169 votes, Uzbekistan 164, Nepal 150, China 139 and Saudi Arabia just 90 votes.
The Geneva-based Human Rights Council can spotlight abuses and has special monitors watching certain countries and issues. It also periodically reviews human rights in every U.N. member country. Created in 2006 to replace a commission discredited because of some members' poor rights records, the new council soon came to face similar criticism, including that rights abuser sought seats to protect themselves and their allies.
(With agency inputs)