Today, the United States was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2022-2024 term.
“All human beings,” as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes, “are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” This profound statement is not an opinion, it is a fact. Our human rights are inalienable, indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated. And they are universal.
Now, having fulfilled President Biden’s campaign pledge to rejoin the Human Rights Council, we can work to ensure this body lives up to these principles.
Starting on January 1, 2022, in our new role as member, we can fully participate in the Council’s work of protecting and promoting human rights. We will use every tool at our disposal, from introducing resolutions and amendments to wielding our vote when needed. Our goals are clear: stand with human rights defenders and speak out against violations and abuses of human rights.
Our initial efforts as full members in the Council will focus on what we can accomplish in situations of dire need, such as in Afghanistan, Burma, China, Ethiopia, Syria, and Yemen. More broadly, we will promote respect for fundamental freedoms and women’s rights, and oppose religious intolerance, racial and ethnic injustices, and violence and discrimination against members of minority groups, including LGBTQI+ persons and persons with disabilities. And we will oppose the Council’s disproportionate attention on Israel, which includes the Council’s only standing agenda item targeting a single country.
Finally, we will press against the election of countries with egregious human rights records and encourage those committed to promoting and protecting human rights both in their own countries and abroad to seek membership. We hold others to our own standard: while we may sometimes fall short of our own ideals, we must constantly strive to be as inclusive, rights respecting, and free as possible.
I am grateful to the UN Member States for their support today and for giving us this opportunity. We will take full advantage of our seat at the table. We look forward to getting to work.