Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The US State Department announced yesterday that the US will seek election to the UN Human Rights Council. According to a statement by US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, the US hopes to make the Council more effective by joining as part of President Obama's "new era of engagement" with the international community. This decision represents another break with the Bush Administration policies, which boycotted the Council in part because of it was very critical of Israel, but refused to take a stronger position on human rights abuses by Sudan. The Obama Administration believes the US can be more effective in promoting and protecting human rights by working from within. The current structure of the UN Human Rights Council was created in 2005 as part of a largely unsuccessful attempt to bring broader reform to the UN. It was hoped that changes in the way members were elected, among other things, would make the body more effective. To date, most commentators agree that the Council has not been much more successful than its predecessor. Perhaps US commitment to the body will help it achieve its potential.