Thursday, March 08, 2007

US refuses to run for UN Human Rights council seat; Again

Crossposted from Conservative Thoughts

The United States has announced that it will not, once again, run for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. This is the second year in the row the U.S. has decided not to seek a seat on the Council.

From a press conference from the U.S. Department of State Spokesman Sean McCormack;

The United States will not run for a United Nations Human Rights Council seat in the Council’s first election, scheduled for May 9, 2006. There are strong candidates in our regional group, with long records of support for human rights, that voted in favor of the resolution creating the Council. They should have the opportunity to run.

Since the credibility of the Council depends on its membership, the United States will actively campaign on behalf of candidates genuinely committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, and which will act as responsible members of this new body. We will also actively campaign against states that systematically abuse human rights.

AP is also reporting details on the US' reluctance to run for a seat on the UN council;

Spokesman Sean McCormack said the council has had a "singular focus" on Israel, while countries such as Cuba, Myanmar and North Korea have been spared scrutiny. He said that though the United States will have only an observer role, it will continue to shine a spotlight on human rights issues.

Tom Lantos (D), the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs called the decision an act of unparalleled defeatism. (source)

“This is the worst possible time for a U.S. retreat from its rightful role as the world’s champion of human rights. At a time when we are attempting to marshal the civilized world to stand up to extremism and terror, a retreat from Geneva sends exactly the wrong signal to those who are trying to defeat us. It is particularly appalling that the Administration would select the day it is releasing the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices to announce this decision. Eleanor Roosevelt surely must be turning over in her grave today.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R); most senior Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, responds to the Adminstrations decision;

"Rather than standing as a strong defender of fundamental human rights, the Human Rights Council has faltered as a weak voice subject to gross political manipulation," she said.

Remember the UN Human Rights Commission under Kofi's watch? The one with Sudan, the country committing genocide in Darfur on it? Now the new 47-member commission is STILL made up of countries that are not free and fair democracies including; Gabon, China, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The council is the successor to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, which was dismantled last year as part of a reform program. The United States felt the reform did not go far enough, and declined to compete for a seat when the council was formed in 2006.

Do you really believe with the current member list that this "council" will behave any differently than its predecessor?

The council will hold its annual meeting in Geneva starting next week and will take up a report commissioned by the panel that compares Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to apartheid in South Africa.

Not likely.