GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Officials representing the Trump administration countered a barrage of criticism at the UN Monday over police violence and racial tensions, the treatment of migrants, among other rights concerns.
Some 120 country representatives took part in the half-day, largely virtual public debate about the US human rights record, making a long line of recommendations for improvements.
A long line of US officials meanwhile spoke up in defence of the US record.
“Our commitment to human rights rests on a firm political and moral commitment to accountability and transparency,” said Andrew Bremberg, the US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva and co-chair of the delegation.
During Monday’s so-called Universal Periodic Review — which all 193 UN countries must undergo every four to five years — the issue raised the most was perhaps concern over excessive police force against African Americans and other minorities, and in response to protests.
Washington also faced criticism over the Trump administration’s crackdown on migrants, and in particular the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the border.
There were also numerous calls for the country to reverse a decision in 2018 to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, to halt sanction against members of the International Criminal Court and to work towards abolishing the death penalty.
There was meanwhile little mention of last week’s presidential elections, although a handful of countries, including Germany, Greece and Russia, did call on Washington to ensure voting rights.
The timing of the delayed event — just days after Democrat Joe Biden was declared the winner of the hotly contested presidential election — left US officials to defend policies that in many cases are likely to be changed or reversed in just a few short months.
Observers, however, insisted that the UPR could send an important message.
“The message from the UN Human Rights Council is very clear,” Jamil Dakwar, head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights division, told AFP in an email.
“The Biden/Harris administration must prioritise reengagement with international human rights and take bold actions on day one to reverse President Trump’s harmful policies.”
Monday marked Washington’s third UPR, after 2010 and 2015.