Human rights should be a priority for Biden administration

President Donald Trump’s administration pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018 with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley stating that it always “makes a mockery of human rights.” 

The Trump administration accuses the Human Rights Council of being an unfair bully to Israel and ignores other human rights abusers such as China . All of this is a fair criticism of the council, but the solution was wrong. 

Now, the U.S. is dealing with its own negative human rights record due to police brutality, military intervention in other countries such as Iraq or Yemen, supporting brutal dictators and an expensive health care system. 

The U.S. just elected Joe Biden, who promises to “put universal rights and strengthening democracy at the center of (the administration’s) efforts to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” 

If President-elect Biden seriously wants to succeed in improving human rights at home and abroad, his administration must rejoin the council. The Biden administration must use its power to build a more effective global mechanism that will help improve the record of the U.S. and other countries.

No one can deny that the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world for now. It has used its power to intervene in countries and remove its leaders, but this isn’t the right way for the U.S. to use its power.

It can use its power to kick human rights abusers, like the Philippines, out from the council. This should inspire other nations to join the U.S. in creating an accountability system by calling out governments in violation.

Some countries have important trading and economic ties with abusive nations, but there has to be a stipulation on human rights when it comes to trading. That’s why the Biden administration must use U.S. trading power to establish a new global economic order.

The U.S. also has a messy human rights record with activists around the world who view the “United States as a villain, not a hero, on the subject,” with its police brutalities and military interventions. The U.S. can set an example to the world by allowing investigators into the country so they can critique its record. 

The U.S. must also follow the recommendations from any reports on the country. That way less powerful countries can feel comfortable doing the same thing without feeling like they are being coerced by the U.S. 

This could lead to international improvements, even if it’s still insufficient. It helps facilitate a better understanding of global human rights and makes it part of every country’s national discourse.

It’s important for the American people to start pushing the Biden administration to uphold its commitment to human rights. It is not enough to say that once Trump is out of office, everything will go back to normal. 

We should not want to go back to normal, but to build a better world where our rights are respected not just with words but with actions.

Abdullah Dowaihy is a political science senior who can be reached at [email protected]

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