U.S. Elected To UN Human Rights Council For The First Time
By Dialogo May 15, 2009Today the United States was chosen for the first time to be a member of the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), a body that monitors the human rights situation in the world and which up until now had been ignored by Washington. The UN General Assembly elected the U.S., Norway, and Belgium to fill three seats on the group of Western European and Other States, while Cuba, Mexico, and Uruguay succeeded in being re-elected to the Latin American and Caribbean bloc. These six countries had secured their election because they did not face any competition for the three seats available to each group. A similar situation occurred for the five seats for Asia, in which China, Bangladesh, and Jordan managed to be re-elected, while Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan were elected to be part of the body. Furthermore, in the group of Eastern Europe, Russia and Hungary managed to secure the two available places at Azerbaijan’s expense. In Africa, the other bloc with more candidates than open seats, Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritius, Djibouti, and Cameroon won more votes than Kenya. The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, was pleased by the support obtained in the General Assembly for Washington's decision to "again play a meaningful leadership role in multilateral organizations." "Although we know that the Human Rights Council is a flawed organization which has not complied fully with its mission, we intend to work with other countries to reform it from within," said the diplomat at the end of the meeting. Rice said that the Council members are elected for terms of three years, and, therefore, the winners of these elections will have the opportunity to participate in the review of the body’s structure and procedures to be held in 2011. The administration of President George W. Bush flatly refused to participate in the HRC, which has its headquarters in Geneva, and voted against its creation in May 2006, considering it to be dominated by countries that violate human rights. The Mexican ambassador to the UN, Claude Heller, also welcomed the election of his country for another three-year term. The endorsement made in the General Assembly “confirms the important role that Mexico has played in the Human Rights Council and its strong commitment to human rights," he added. The HRC was created on March 15, 2006 by the UN General Assembly to replace the Commission on Human Rights, which was abolished after 60 years of work due to the crisis of legitimacy that had risen due to decisions that were seen by as prejudiced, unbalanced and politicized. The Council is an intergovernmental body that is part of the United Nations system and is composed of 47 member states responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights in the world.