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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

U.S. Runs for Seat on U.N. Human Rights Council

April 3, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

On Tuesday, the Obama administration reversed a key Bush decision by announcing it will run for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. The 47 members of the council are elected by the U.N. General Assembly from among all the countries that are members of the U.N.

The State Department explained that by seeking election to the council "we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights. We hope to work in partnership with many countries to achieve a more effective council."

Established in 2006, the U.N. Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body designed to monitor compliance with human rights treaties and promote the protection of human rights around the globe. Members of the council are elected to three-year staggered terms.

Critics of the U.N. have said that the council's predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, allowed some countries such as Sudan to block scrutiny of their own human rights records and that the council is mired in the same problems. That was one of the reasons why President Bush considered the council too flawed to merit U.S. participation.

However, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon praised the announcement and noted that full "United States engagement on human rights issues is an important step towards realizing the goal of an inclusive and vibrant intergovernmental process to protect human rights around the globe."

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