The UN General Assembly (UNGA) [official website] on Monday elected 18 countries [press release], including the US, to a three-year term on the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] beginning January 1. The secret ballot election was held at the UN headquarters in New York, and the following UNGA members were elected [UN News Centre report] to serve: Argentina, Brazil, Ivory Coast, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Montenegro, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, United Arab Emirates, US, and Venezuela. The UNHRC, which is composed of 47 members, is an inter-governmental body of the UN responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the world. It is also tasked with making recommendations for specific human rights violations. Significantly, this is only the second time that the US has elected to a serve on either the UNHRC, which was created by UNGA Resolution 61/251 [text] in 2006, or the former Commission on Human Rights that it replaced. The re-election was welcomed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official website], who pledged [press release] that the US would "continue to work closely with the international community to address urgent and serious human rights concerns worldwide and to strengthen the Council."
The US was first elected [JURIST report] to a seat on the UNHRC in May 2009 when the country received 90 percent of the votes from the UNGA. In April of that year, the US State Department [official website] released a set of commitments and pledges [text, PDF] to human rights in anticipation of the election. Also in April, the US openly announced its intent to seek a seat on the UNHRC [JURIST report].