On March 30, 2011, the US Department of State announced that it would pursue a second term on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The UNHRC was created in 2006 and consists of 47 member states. Under the Bush administration, the US did not seek election to the council because of a perceived anti-Israeli bias. Under the Obama administration, the US was elected to its first tenure on the UNHRC in May 2009 after releasing a list of campaign commitments in April 2009. Following its election to the body, the US was forced to defend its human rights record during the Council's first Universal Period Review, which evaluates the human rights records of all 192 UN member states every four years. Major points of criticism against the US included the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the embargo against Cuba, and continued use of the death penalty. The US term expires in 2012 and UNHRC members may only serve for two consecutive terms.
Learn more about the UNHRC from the JURIST news archive and read commentary on the Council from JURIST Guest Columnist Claire Kaplun in Hotline.