UN Human Rights Council: U.S. Decides To Seek a Second Term

Posted by Suzanne Nossel
March 30, 2011
Delegates Look at Human Rights Room Roof Painting at UN Headquarters in Geneva

Today, the United States announced its intention to pursue a second term on the Human Rights Council. This announcement follows a landmark session of the Council that wrapped up last week, in which the Council took several important actions, including establishing a new Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, establishing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights abuses in Cote d'Ivoire and charting a new course for global efforts to condemn intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief while protecting and promoting freedom of expression. Additionally, the United States led a ground-breaking effort to get 85 UN member-states to join a statement supporting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

The United States believes that our engagement in the Human Rights Council has directly resulted in real progress for the Council, and we have a substantial positive track record at the Council since joining in September of 2009. The United States has been able to help mobilize the Council's will to address serious problems in Libya, Iran, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Kyrgyzstan, and elsewhere for the first time. Due to U.S. leadership, the people of Iran will now have a voice at the UN to speak for them and raise their concerns internationally. Countries can no longer claim an international sanction for blasphemy laws. Women's rights, issues related to sexual orientation, freedom of expression and assembly…all of these issues have been raised and supported at the Council thanks to effective and tireless U.S. leadership.

However, much work remains to be done to ensure that the Council fully realizes its intended purpose. In particular, the United States remains determined to end the Council's biased and disproportionate focus on Israel. The United States maintains a vocal, principled stand against this bias, and will continue its robust efforts to end it.

As President Reagan said, “[W]hen human rights progress is made, the United Nations grows stronger -- and the United States is glad of it.” We believe that U.S. engagement in the Council has directly resulted in real progress that makes a difference, and we look forward to fighting the good fight at the Human Rights Council session by session, resolution by resolution -- by leading and by insisting that abusers be held accountable.

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