Ban welcomes US decision to seek seat on UN Human Rights Council

31 March 2009

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the announcement by the United States that it will seek a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying it embodies the country’s commitment to a “new era of engagement.”

“The Human Rights Council has a critical role to play in the protection and promotion of all human rights for all people, and the US has an important contribution to make to this end,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.

“Full US engagement on human rights issues is an important step toward realizing the goal of an inclusive and vibrant intergovernmental process to protect human rights around the globe,” the statement added.

The 47-member, Geneva-based Council replaced the Human Rights Commission – which faced increasing criticism over the years as being ineffective and not accountable – in 2006.

The Council has several elements making it stronger, including its higher status as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, its increased number of meetings throughout the year, equitable geographical representation and also the voting rights associated with membership.

Despite these improvements, the US felt at the time that the Council did not go far enough and was among four countries that voted against setting up the new body.

“The Secretary-General also welcomes the announcement as a concrete embodiment of the US commitment to a ‘new era of engagement,’” today’s statement said.

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