Secretary of State Pompeo blasts UN for China’s re-election to Human Rights Council
10/25/2020 // Franz Walker // Views

Secretary of State Mike Mike Pompeo has criticized the United Nations after the election of China, and other countries with poor human rights records, to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Oct. 13.

“The UN General Assembly once again elected countries with abhorrent human rights records, including China, Russia, and Cuba,” wrote Pompeo in a statement. “These elections only further validate the U.S. decision to withdraw and use other venues and opportunities to protect and promote universal human rights.”

The United States had previously withdrawn from the Human Rights Council in June of 2018, a year before its term expired in 2019. Back then, one of the issues that President Donald Trump cited was membership rules that allowed the election of countries with well-known cases of human rights abuse into the Council as one of his main reasons for pulling out.

“It’s an example, an indication of why we were right to leave that body,” he added. “When institutions are irredeemable as was demonstrated yesterday, the United States under President Trump simply will not participate.”

China re-elected to U.N. Human Rights Council

The U.N. held elections for the 47-seat Human Rights Council at its headquarters in New York City on October 13. The elections were held to fill 15 vacant seats distributed among five regional groups: African States, Asia-Pacific States, Latin American and Caribbean States, Eastern European States and Western European and other States.

Aside from the Asia-Pacific States group, where five countries were competing for four vacant slots, each group had the same number of candidates as vacant seats. The winning countries will begin their three-year terms on January 1, 2021.


In this year’s round of secret balloting, China’s support dropped considerably compared to the last time it won a seat on the panel in 2016. Back then, China won 180 votes in the secret balloting; this year, it only got 139. The drop, however, was not enough to keep it off the Human Rights Council.

Other countries with questionable human rights records that were voted into the Council included Russia and Cuba who join incumbents Venezuela, Sudan and Libya.

In response to this, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hayley stated that the U.S. was right to leave the Council in light of the countries elected into it.

“The Council voted in Communist China, Communist Cuba and Russia, joining Venezuela, Sudan and Libya. This further validates the US decision to leave the Human Rights Council in 2018,” she said.

Meanwhile, Omer Kanat, executive director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, said that his organization was dismayed by China’s election into the Council, saying: “Governments committing genocide shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Human Rights Council.”

That said, Kanat noted that the lower number of votes that China got this year may indicate that it is losing the confidence of the international community.

U.S. calls for change in the Council went unheeded

When the U.S. left, the country urged U.N. member states to take immediate action to reform the Council before it became irreparable. With China’s reelection, however, Pompeo now says that those calls went unheeded.

“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.

Pompeo also took the time to highlight the efforts the U.S. took on its own, outside of the Council, to promote and uphold human rights. He cited the landmark side event centered on the continuing significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the U.S. hosted in September, during the U.N. Assembly’s high-level week. In addition, he also pointed out how Trump hosted a landmark event on religious freedom last year.

More importantly, he highlighted the State Department’s efforts to punish human rights violations around the world, which he said, proved that the country’s commitment to human rights went beyond words.

“Through the State Department’s action, we have punished human rights abusers in Xinjiang, Myanmar, Iran and elsewhere,” he said “Our commitments are spelled out clearly in the U.N.’s declaration, and in our record of action.”

“The United States is a force for good in the world and will always be.”

Follow for more on the various human rights abuses being committed by Beijing.

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