The United Nations General Assembly elected forty-seven countries to serve on the U-N's new Human Rights Council. The council replaces the discredited Human Rights Commission.
Some major human rights abusers who were members of the old Commission -- Burma, Belarus, Sudan, and Zimbabwe -- did not seek election to the Council. Iran and Venezuela did, but were voted down. Five countries identified in the U.S. State Department 2005 Human Rights Report as having poor human rights records – China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia -- won seats on the new Council.
The independent monitoring group Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying, "The disappointing election of certain violators, including Azerbaijan. . . .shows that candidates were not elected solely on their rights records."
John Bolton, the U-S ambassador to the U-N, says there are few surprises on the Council:
"I’d say it is about the result we expected, even though a number of countries who are themselves gross abusers of human rights got elected again. I think, as we have said for some time now, the real performance of the Human Rights Council for a two- or three-year period is going to be what is critical. Now the next stage is to see what happens when the Council itself begins work in Geneva later this summer."
The U.S. did not seek membership on the U-N Human Rights Council. In a written statement, the State Department says the U.S. is committed "to working cooperatively with member states to make the Council as effective as possible in promoting human rights." In the State Department’s view, "While the Council as a whole is an improvement over the former Commission on Human Rights, a number of those elected lack a genuine commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights."
The State Department says the U-N Human Rights Council "must do all within its power to see to it that the world's vulnerable populations are protected and their rights enhanced, promoted, and institutionalized."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.