Secretary of State Antony Blinken is inviting United Nations officials to investigate systemic racism in the United States amid a dispute with China about whether international monitors can probe the atrocities against Uyghur Muslims. His move has drawn the ire of some GOP lawmakers.
“The United States intends to issue a formal, standing invitation to all UN experts who report and advise on thematic human rights issues,” Blinken announced late Tuesday. “As a first step, we have reached out to offer an official visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues.”
Blinken issued that invitation as the diplomats and U.N. officials in Geneva agreed to establish “an international independent expert mechanism” to investigate police discrimination against people of African descent globally. The international discussion of George Floyd’s death this week coincided with a State Department report detailing China’s atrocities against the Uyghurs, which the U.S. has identified as a genocide.
“Great nations such as ours do not hide from our shortcomings; they acknowledge them openly and strive to improve with transparency,” Blinken said. “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.”
That invitation irritated Sen. Marco Rubio, coming as it does as the regime in Cuba is trying to force an end to an unexpected outbreak of protests against the island’s communist authorities.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio condemned the decision on Twitter:
They invite the @UN to investigate “contemporary forms of racism” in America but don’t do squat to get the @UN to investigate & get involved in preventing state sponsored murder just 90 miles off our shores in #Cuba https://t.co/sTEmsvDT8L
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 14, 2021
The U.N. vote to establish a commission to investigate police discrimination was adopted following the Monday submission of a human rights report commissioned following the killing of Floyd, whose death occasioned domestic and international uproar. That same day, Blinken unveiled a State Department report to Congress on genocide and atrocities, which U.S. officials took as an occasion to rebuke Beijing for stymying international investigators who want to visit Xinjiang region and report on the plight of the Uyghurs.
“We are maintaining, as you mentioned, pressure with our international partners on China both to let people in and to change its behavior so that we could stop what we consider to be the atrocities that are happening there from occurring or continuing to occur into the future,” acting Assistant Secretary Robert Faucher, who leads the State Department’s conflict and stabilization operations bureau, told reporters Monday. “So the strategy is a diplomatic strategy that continues to build pressure on China using whatever tools we have at our disposal.”
The language of Blinken’s announcement raises the likelihood that U.S. officials will cite his invitation to U.N. investigators as a way to sharpen their rebukes of China’s refusal to permit outside access to Xinjiang.
Author: Sebastian Hayworth