Repressive Regimes Elected to UN Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council / Getty Images
October 13, 2020

Countries that routinely abuse human rights and attack American interests won seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council Tuesday.

United Nations General Assembly president Volkan Bozkir welcomed China, Cuba, Russia, and Pakistan, among other countries, to their council seats in a congratulatory tweet. The vote to extend membership to the countries took place Tuesday afternoon.

All five countries have committed human-rights abuses, including limited religious freedom, political suppression, and genocide.

Many of them, meanwhile, have worked together to oppose American interests and defend each other. China and Cuba, for example, have engaged in a reciprocal relationship, calling out so-called American imperialism to deflect criticism of their own human-rights violations. China's Communist regime has committed genocide against its Uighur people, while Cuba's government has oppressed its citizens and refused to cooperate with American counterterrorism efforts.

The welcome to China comes despite human-rights groups' fervent opposition.

The council's initiatives have disproportionately targeted Israel but done little to examine member-states' practices. Under the Trump administration, the United States withdrew from the body in 2018.

"The Human Rights Council has provided cover, not condemnation, for the world's most inhumane regimes," former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said in 2018.

While the Trump administration has begun to rethink American commitments to international organizations that defend dictatorships, a Joe Biden administration may not think the same way.

In its 2020 national platform, the Democratic Party calls for the United States' rejoining the Human Rights Council and other U.N.-sponsored organizations that target Israel and promote Chinese domestic interests. Biden's campaign platform, meanwhile, did not condemn Chinese human-rights violations in Tibet until a Washington Free Beacon report was published in August.