Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday announced that he has invited the United Nations’ envoys on racism and minority issues to visit the U.S., a move that immediately drew criticism.
“As the President has repeatedly made clear, great nations such as ours do not hide from our shortcomings; they acknowledge them openly and strive to improve with transparency,” Blinken said in a statement. “In so doing, we not only work to set the standard for national responses to these challenges, we also strengthen our democracy, and give new hope and motivation to human rights defenders across the globe.”
Blinken said the U.S. will issue a “formal, standing invitation to all U.N. experts who report and advise on thematic human rights issues” and has already reached out to the U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on minority issues to invite them to make an official visit.
Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council who will typically gather information on their respective issues and then issue a public report. The U.S. left the Human Rights Council in 2018 due to its anti-Israel bias and the makeup of its membership, which included countries with abysmal human rights records. The Biden administration has sought to rejoin it.
The current special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism is a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law. The office’s most recent report sought to highlight “how digital technologies are being deployed to advance the xenophobic and racially discriminatory ideologies that have become so prevalent, in part due to widespread perceptions of refugees and migrants as per se threats to national security.”
Blinken also used the statement to welcome the controversial U.N. Human Rights Council’s adoption of a resolution on racism against Africans and people of African descent in the context of law enforcement.
A 2020 report by the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions concluded that claims by the U.S. about the justification for the strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani were exaggerated and lacked evidence. Meanwhile, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants called for the U.S. to release migrants 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 remarks he made about Israel, when he said he wanted “to make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion can and will no longer be cost free.”
Blinken’s comments Tuesday suggested that he expected the U.N. officials to be critical of the U.S. for its record on racism.
“Responsible nations must not shrink from scrutiny of their human rights record; rather, they should acknowledge it with the intent to improve,” he said in the statement.
The announcement drew immediate criticism, with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., suggesting Blinken point the U.N. toward authoritarian dictatorships like Cuba instead.
“@SecBlinken instead of asking the @UN to come here & tell us how ‘racist’ America is, why don’t you ask them to go to #Cuba where an evil socialist regime storms into peoples homes, beats the crap out of them & then drags them away?” he asked on Twitter.
Fox News’ Ben Evansky contributed to this report.