U.S. Rejoins United Nations Human Rights Council

Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Monday that the United States is “pleased” to have been reelected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), a controversial body that has been repeatedly chastised for its anti-Israel bias.

The U.S. won reelection to the 47-member body on Tuesday after a “competitive” political race against several other Western nations with substantially fewer votes than human-rights heavyweights United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Côte d’Ivoire, Venezuela, and Pakistan..

“The United States is pleased to have been elected by the United Nations General Assembly to a second term on the Human Rights Council,” Clinton said in a statement. “We thank the countries that voted for us in what was a highly competitive race among several qualified Western candidates that are all strong champions of human rights.”

Fewer than half of Council members now poised to begin applying democratic standards to the rest of the world, are themselves “fully free,” according to Freedom House rankings.

Also coming out a big winner today was the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which retained the balance of power on the Council. Council membership is divided among five regional groups, and the African and Asian regional groups comprise the majority of members. OIC states will continue to make up the majority on each of the African and Asian regional groups.

Clinton promised to “strengthen the council” and end its “biased focus on Israel.”

“We pledge to continue to work closely with the international community to address urgent and serious human rights concerns worldwide and to strengthen the Council,” the statement said.

“While much hard work remains to be done, especially ending the Council’s disproportionate and biased focus on Israel, we look forward to cooperating with other Council members to continue to address human rights concerns and to ensure that the Council fully realizes its promise.”

Foreign policy observers said the HRC’s anti-Israel bias runs deep and offers the U.S. little room to effect change.

Actually, U.S. membership validates the Council as a serious human rights body — despite the fact that it is the U.N. entity chiefly responsible for the demonization of the state of Israel as allegedly the world’s worst human-rights violator. Thirty-eight percent of all the human rights criticism directed at specific countries by the Council in its six-year history has been directed at Israel alone. None has been directed at countries such as Saudi Arabia and China, to name but a few.

“Elections have consequences,” said one GOP foreign policy adviser. “In this case, four more years of membership in a group devoted to castigating Israel and making a mockery of human rights.”

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