Haley says Biden rejoining UN Human Rights Council would 'fly in the face' of rights push

The US left the Council in 2018 over concerns about bias and membership.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Monday warned that a potential move by President Biden to rejoin the controversial U.N. Human Rights Council would "fly in the face" of the fight for human rights.

"The U.N. Human Rights Council is a cesspool of political bias that makes a mockery of human rights," Haley tweeted. 

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"If Biden rejoins the council whose membership includes dictatorial regimes & some of the world’s worst human rights violators, it will fly in the face of our fight for human rights," she said.

Haley was part of the Trump administration in 2018 when it pulled the U.S. out of the Human Rights Council. As she announced that decision, she used similar language at the time, calling it "a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias."

Critics, of which Haley has been perhaps the most high-profile, have pointed to the council’s membership, which currently includes countries such as Cuba, China and Russia -- all of whom were elected in 2020.

In 2019, the U.N. General Assembly elected Libya, Sudan and Venezuela to the Council.

Critics have also accused the council of having a sweeping anti-Israel bias, noting that Israel is regularly discussed and condemned by the council, while human rights violations by other countries -- including those on the council -- are ignored.

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Biden has promised to rejoin the council but has so far not set out criteria of reforms he would demand before the U.S. reapplies. Biden has also moved to rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO), from which then-President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. last year.

"We will rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council and work to ensure that body truly lives up to its values," Biden said in a Medium post.

He has also criticized the Trump administration for Cuba being elected to the council -- although Cuba had also been a member of the council during the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft called recently for a number of reforms that the Biden administration should demand before re-entering the Council.

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"In its current composition and direction, the council is failing to live up to its name," Craft said.

"It is an insult to the millions around the world who are subjected to oppression and persecution for seeking to employ their God-given rights," she said in a December speech. "It is an affront to human rights defenders craving support from the United Nations."