US Elected to UN Rights Council

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BBC News

US Elected to UN Rights Council

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The United States has been elected to a seat on the UN Human Rights Council for the first time.

The council had been shunned by the Bush administration, which accused it of admitting states with poor rights records and having an anti-Israel bias.

But the Obama administration has reversed its predecessor's policy of boycotting the Geneva-based body.

The US was one of 18 countries elected to the 47-seat council in a vote by the UN General Assembly.

It received 167 votes, far more than the 97 votes needed in the secret ballot.

The Obama administration announced in March that it would be seeking to join the Human Rights Council as part of a broader strategy to create a "new era of engagement" with the rest of the world.

Previously, the US government had accused the council of being hijacked by countries with a strong bias against Israel, and had criticised it for its failure to condemn perceived human rights violations by the Sudanese government in Darfur.

A number of countries whose human rights records have been criticised by the US - including Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia - are also represented on the council.

The council was set up in 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights, which had also been dogged by accusations of anti-Israeli prejudice.

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