United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said that the election of countries such as Cuba, China and Russia to the United Nations Human Rights Council was a win for tyrants and an embarrassment for the UN, reported PTI.
“It’s an example, an indication of why we were right to leave that body,” Pompeo told reporters. “When institutions are irredeemable as was demonstrated yesterday, the United States under President [Donald] Trump simply will not participate.”
The US had quit the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018, calling it a “cesspool of political bias”. The then US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley had cited the council’s “entrenched bias against Israel”, the admission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo into the body though mass graves were discovered there, and the “failure” to address human rights abuses in Venezuela and Iran as reasons for leaving the council.
On Wednesday, Pompeo said the election of Russia, China and Cuba further validated the decision of the US to withdraw and use other venues to protect universal human rights.
He gave the example of the US hosting a side event during the UN General Assembly’s high-level week focused on the significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Trump hosted a landmark event on religious freedom last year, the secretary of state added.
On China, Pompeo said the Communist Party of China was consistently violating the most basic and fundamental human rights for its people.
“This is what Communist parties have a history of doing,” Pompeo said. “It’s what President Trump has directed us all to work to try and preserve; as much freedom, as much dignity, for every citizen of China as we possibly can when they are confronted with these massive human rights violations that are being conducted by the Chinese Communist Party.”
He cited the example of Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet and said that Washington was asking China to preserve human dignity, basic freedom and religious freedom of its citizens.
“We’ll work hard to do everything we can to build out a coalition all across the world that comes to understand how important that is alongside of us, and works to impose costs on the Chinese Communist Party when they act in ways that are inconsistent with those basic fundamental human freedoms, said the top American diplomat.”— United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
The secretary of state said that the US has taken action against human rights violators in Xinjiang, Iran, Myanmar among other places. “Our commitments are spelled out clearly in the UN’s declaration, and in our record of action,” he said. “The United States is a force for good in the world and will always be.”
Apart from the US, East Turkistan Government in Exile’s Prime Minister Salih Hudayar also criticised the decision to elect China. “China’s election as a member of the UN Human Rights Council is equal to the Nazis being elected,” he said. “By voting for China, the UN General Assembly is only empowering China to continue its brutal campaign of colonisation and genocide in Occupied East Turkistan.”
The Uyghur Human Rights Project urged the council’s member states to take steps to hold China accountable for ongoing abuses targeting the Uyghur community.
Despite the criticism, China said that its reelection to the council was evidence of the international community’s “high recognition” of its achievements in the field, AP reported. Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian also refuted Pompeo’s allegations, calling them “very absurd”.
Apart from the three countries, the UN General Assembly on Tuesday elected France, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Britain, Malawi, Bolivia, and Uzbekistan to the 47-member human rights council, Reuters reported. Pakistan, Senegal, Ukraine, Nepal and Mexico were re-elected for a second three-year term.