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How the Biden-Harris Administration Can Advance a Global Human Rights Agenda

The last four years have altered the global human rights landscape in some significant ways. The Trump administration by and large abandoned multilateral forums for advancing a human rights agenda, like the UN Human Rights Council. At the same time China has begun to more proactively engage in those platforms.

The United States was a member of the Council up until 2018, when the Trump administration abruptly abandoned its seat at that table. Now, starting in 2021 the Human Rights Council will include China, but not the United States.

As Suzanne Nossel explains this has some real world implications for how the international community approaches human rights, particularly issues related to the regulation of technology and free speech in the digital space.

Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America and author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech to All. She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary State for International Organizations during the Obama administration where she helped design and implement US policy towards the Human Rights Council. We kick off discussing how human rights issues have evolved over the last four years before having a deeper conversation about how the Biden-Harris administration may more effectively use multilateral platforms to advance a global human rights agenda

Suzanne Nossel makes the compelling argument that the time has never been more urgent for the United States to reassert itself at multilateral human rights platforms like the Human Rights Council.


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Today’s episode is produced in partnership with the Better World Campaign as part of a series  examining the opportunities for strengthening multilateral engagement by the new Biden-Harris administration and the incoming 117th Congress. To learn more and access additional episodes in this series, please visit