[JURIST] The State Department announced Thursday afternoon in Washington that the United States will not be seeking membership this year of the new UN Human Rights Council [official website; UN materials; FAQ]. A spokesman said in a press statement ahead of a scheduled daily briefing:
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....Last month the US led a tiny minority of 4 countries opposing [JURIST report] the resolution [JURIST document] creating the council, insisting that it wanted more to be done to prevent abusive countries from gaining membership [JURIST report] on the body. There had been speculation that the US would not be able to secure the majority 96 UN General Assembly votes necessary for a successful membership bid. Cuba and Iran are two of the 40 countries that have so far applied for council membership [UN list]; 47 countries will be chosen on May 9.
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.
With a strong collective effort in the coming months to make the new Council effective, the United States will likely run for the Council next year.
The new body, which replaces the troubled UN Commission on Human Rights [official website], which held its last meeting on March 27 [JURIST report], meets for the first time in Geneva on June 19. Countries will serve a maximum of two three-year terms. AP has more.