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Foreign Minister Antony Blinken announced on Tuesday that he had invited the United Nations Envoy on Racism and Minority Issues to visit the United States, which immediately attracted criticism.
“As the President has repeatedly made clear, large nations like ours do not hide from our shortcomings, they openly acknowledge them and strive to improve with transparency,” Blinken said in a statement. “In doing so, we are not only working to set the standard for national responses to these challenges, but also strengthening our democracy and giving human rights defenders around the world new hope and motivation.”
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Blinken said the US will issue a “formal standing invitation to all UN experts reporting and advising on topical human rights issues” and has already addressed the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism and the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues invite her on an official visit.
Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council who typically collect information on their respective issues and then issue a public report. The U.S. left the Human Rights Council in 2018 because of its anti-Israel bias and the makeup of its membership, which included countries with poor human rights records. The Biden government has tried to rejoin it.
The current Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism is a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA). The Office’s latest report sought to highlight “how digital technologies are being used to advance xenophobic and racially discriminatory ideologies which are so widespread, in part because of the widespread perception of refugees and migrants as a threat to national security in itself”.
Blinken also used the statement to welcome the adoption of a controversial UN Human Rights Council resolution on racism against Africans and people of African descent in the context of law enforcement.
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A 2020 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions concluded that US claims to justify the attack that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani were exaggerated and lacked evidence. In the meantime, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants urged the US to release migrants who are held in detention centers due to the risk of COVID-19.
Earlier this month, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian territories was criticized for his remarks about Israel when he said he wanted to “make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation and its violation of international law and opinion can and will no longer be free”.
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Blinken’s comments on Tuesday indicated that he expected UN officials to criticize the US for its racism statistics.
“Responsible nations must not shy away from reviewing their human rights record, but should recognize them with the intention of improving,” he said in the statement.
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The announcement was immediately criticized. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Suggested Blinken refer the UN to authoritarian dictatorships like Cuba instead.
“@SecBlinken, instead of asking the @UN to come over here and tell us how” racist “America is, why not ask them to go to #Cuba where an evil socialist regime is storming people’s homes and beat the crap out of them & then pull them away? ” he asked on Twitter.
Fox News’ Ben Evansky contributed to this report.