<!-- IMAGE -->
The United States has joined the United Nations Human Rights Council as a full-fledged member. The decision to seek a seat on the council after 3 years of staying on the sidelines reflects a shift in policy by the Obama administration.
"Our decision to join the Human Rights Council," said Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, "was not taken lightly, and was reached based on a clear and hopeful vision of what can be accomplished here."
The U.S. believes that the Human Rights Council should reflect and promote the principles laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"The principles contained there," said Assistant Secretary Brimmer, "are as resonant today as when Eleanor Roosevelt led the Commission that enshrined them. We cannot pick and choose which of these rights we embrace nor select who among us are entitled to them."
The U.N Human Rights Council provides a unique forum in which countries can debate human rights abuses. The U.S. is committed to such a debate. "We will strive for discussions," said Assistant Secretary Brimmer, "that are thoughtful, focused and open to all viewpoints and perspectives."
But in order for the Human Rights Council to be effective, member countries must come together on the basis of shared principles. The challenge, said Assistant Secretary Brimmer, will be to take these principles and apply them fairly in situations that defy easy resolution.
The U.S., said Assistant Secretary Brimmer, will always stand its ground and speak the truth:
"Make no mistake; the United States will not look the other way in the face of serious human rights abuses. The truth must be told, the facts brought to light and the consequences faced. While we aim for common ground, we will call things as we see them and we will stand our ground when the truth is at stake."
"International peace and security and global prosperity," said Assistant Secretary Brimmer, "are strengthened when human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected and protected. We recognize and value," she said, "the importance of this institution in promoting human rights norms and rallying our collective will to address human rights abuses where they occur."