The United States has rejoined the United Nations Human Rights Council, part of what the Biden administration says is its intent to deepen American engagement with the world, but the move drew sharp criticism from Republicans.

The United States’ election to a three-year seat on the 47-member body reverses President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to withdraw in protest of the council’s inclusion of nations with poor rights records and what critics have called its disproportionate focus on criticism of Israel.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the decision provided evidence of President Biden’s determination to renew American leadership overseas and said participation in the council would provide U.S. officials a forum for addressing global rights abuses.

Blinken also noted what he described as the council’s “serious flaws,” citing, as the previous administration did in 2018, the organization’s attention to Israel and its membership. Experts have said countries such as China have used their seats on the council to advance their own vision of human rights or fend off criticism of their own actions.

“We will work hard to ensure the council upholds its highest aspirations and better supports those fighting against injustice and tyranny around the world,” Blinken said in a statement. “The path towards the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms will be filled with challenges. The United States commits to continue this steadfast pursuit.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the United States would use its seat to advance human rights in places including Ethiopia, China, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and Afghanistan, and advocate for religious tolerance and minority and other rights.

Since its establishment in 2006, the council has largely been viewed along partisan lines in the United States. President George W. Bush’s administration did not support participation; the Obama administration did.

Sen. James E. Risch (Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the United States should not provide credibility to a body that includes countries such as Venezuela and Cuba. “The Biden administration will pat itself on the back for rejoining this flawed body,” he said. “However, it will have done so without securing any necessary reforms, while failing to support human rights around the world.”

Nikki Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, also decried the move.

“If President Biden truly cared about human rights, he would keep us far away from the cesspool that is the UN Human Rights Council,” she said in a statement to Fox News.

The move follows other efforts to restore U.S. multilateral engagement, such as the decision this year to rejoin the Paris climate accord.

“This is just another symbolic way of saying, ‘The U.S. is back,’” said Richard Gowan, United Nations director at the International Crisis Group.

But Gowan said that U.S. membership could also have practical benefits, for example providing a venue to help collectively track violations by Afghanistan’s new Taliban government and potentially building international consensus on how to respond.

“There is some genuine leverage the U.S. acquires by being on the council,” he said.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, described the move as encouraging in as statement but said the United States also needed to address its own record.

“From ending mass incarceration to dismantling systemic racism to protecting immigrants’ rights, the Biden administration must take bold action to advance human rights and racial justice at home and abroad,” he said.

John Hudson contributed to this report.