US Chickens Out of Human Rights Race
The United States said Thursday that it would not be a candidate for the new Human Rights Council, which was approved overwhelmingly last month by the UN General Assembly with Washington almost alone in opposition.Of course some conservatives applauded the decision, as if it were a meaningful choice.
The Bush Administration should be applauded for its decision not to seek election to the newly created United Nations Human Rights Council. The 47-seat body is not a significant improvement over the hugely discredited Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The new Council’s complete lack of membership criteria renders it open to infiltration and manipulation by the world’s worst human rights abusers.But the truth is, the way the election is structured, the US doesn't stand a chance at winning a seat.
The 47 member states on the council will be "elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the General Assembly" based on . . .
“the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.”Not only is it highly unlikely, if not impossible, that the US could garner support from 96 countries based on its abysmal human rights record, but the secret nature of the elections will complicate attempts to strong arm votes and set the stage for major political embarrassment should the US end up without any votes.
Finally, in order to run for election to the council, the US would be obliged to abide by the following:
We urge states seeking membership on the Council toOf course, all this is out of the question, especially the part about "unimpeded access to human rights investigators."
- present their candidacies at least thirty days prior to election (i.e. by April 10) to allow for public scrutiny of their human rights records;
- commit to “fully co-operate with the Council” as set forth in the General Assembly resolution by granting unimpeded access to U.N. human rights investigators through standing invitations
- set forth a concrete and positive human rights agenda at home and for service on the Council. [perhaps they could get Ms. England and Mr. Graner to advise them]
- at home, this should include a plan for ratification of the principal human rights treaties [fat chance], if they have not yet been approved, as well as their implementation, and the lifting of reservations [dream on]; and a commitment to regularly report to relevant treaty monitoring bodies.
- on the Council, this should include the commitment to ensure that the Council provides an adequate response to human rights crises when they occur, to oppose procedural barriers (such as “no action” motions) that might block full examination of these situations, and to establish a robust universal periodic review mechanism.
So, we see that the REAL issue is not what the US has done in the past, but what it continues to do and will do for the foreseeable future that prevents it from running for election.