Joe Biden administration is all set to re-join the United Nations Human Rights Council that it left in 2018.

  • The United States of America will return to the Council as an observer with the aim of seeking election as a full member.

Background

  • Former preisdent Donald Trump withdrew from the world body’s main human rights because of its disproportionate focus on Israel.
  • Israel had received the largest number of critical council resolutions so far with respect to any other country.
  • So, the President Trump administration discussed the issue with the body’s membership.
  • The members include China, Cuba, Russia, Eritrea and Venezuela. All these countries have been accused of human rights abuses.

United Nations Human Rights

It is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world.

  • Formation
    • The United Nations Human Rights was created by the UN General Assembly in the year 2006. It replaced the former UN Commission on Human Rights.
    • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights serves as the Secretariat of the UN Human Rights Council.
    • OHCHR headquarter located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Members Countries
    • It is made up of 47 UN Member countries which are elected by the UN General Assembly.
      • The UN General Assembly takes into account the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
    • The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as follows:
      • African States: 13 seats
      • Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats
      • Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats
      • Western European and other States: 7 seats
      • Eastern European States: 6 seats
    • Members of the Council serve for a period of 3 years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving 2 consecutive terms.
  • Procedures and Mechanisms
    • Universal Periodic Review: It serves to assess the human rights situations in all United Nations Member Countries.
    • Advisory Committee: It serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues.
    • Complaint Procedure: It allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.
    • United Nations Special Procedures: These are made up of special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries.
  • Issues
    • Related to the Membership: A key concern for some critics has been the composition of Council membership, which sometimes includes countries widely perceived as human rights abusers.
      • China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses.
    • Disproportionate Focus: The United States of America pulled out of the Agency in the year 2018 due to its disproportionate focus on Israel, which has received by far the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country.

India and Human Rights Council

  • Recently, a group of Special Rapporteurs to the United Nations has written to the Indian government expressing concerns over the draft Environment Impact Assessment notification 2020.
    • In the year 2020, the National Human Rights Commission of India submitted its mid-term report to the Council as a part of the third round of the Universal Periodic Review process.
    • India was elected to the Council for a period of 3 years beginning 1st of January 2019.

USA to re-join UNHRC USA to re-join UNHRC