BALTIMORE/BERLIN – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed America’s
reelection to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday and pledged that the country
would continue to combat the panel’s anti-Israel activity.
work remains to be done,” Clinton said in a statement, “especially ending the
council’s disproportionate and biased focus on Israel.”
The US has come
under criticism from some in the Jewish community for participating in a group
that routinely censures Israel while ignoring many of the most pressing human
rights problems in the world, some being committed by countries with
representatives on the council.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan
Rice welcomed Washington’s reelection, saying that the Human Rights Council “has
delivered real results” since the US first joined it in 2010 after running for a
seat on it a year before. She cited council action on Syria as a positive
example of its work.
However, she also criticized the council’s
“excessive and unbalanced focus on Israel.” Advocates of America’s
participation, however, say the situation would be worse without a US presence,
and that the US has been behind important initiatives challenging Iran’s human
rights record and other initiatives.
Clinton noted that the US faced a
difficult fight in a “highly competitive race” to retain its seat as a
representative for Western nations on the council.
“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,” she
The vote gave the US another three year term on the 47-nation
The 193-nation UN General Assembly also elected 17 other countries
for terms beginning in January. The US won the most votes of the regional group
“Western Europe and Others,” followed by Germany and Ireland.
the UN Watch blog, Hillel Neuer, the head of the group, slammed Germany’s
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle for deferential conduct toward
non-democracies and undercutting universal human rights.
are so many non-democracies and tyrannies among the 193 voting nations,
candidates like Germany are effectively promising to give gross violators a free
pass, perpetuate the council’s dysfunctional functioning as a toothless talk
shop, and proclaim that Western democracies are no better than anyone else,”
AFP reported Westerwelle saying, “Developed countries do not
have a monopoly on safeguarding human rights.”
Neuer shot back,
“Translation: We in the West are as repressive as anyone else. So again, don’t
worry: a vote for Germany on the council is a vote for shielding your
Westerwelle said, “We want to act as a bridge-builder.
Cooperation, not confrontation, is the motto which guides our
Neuer termed the phrase “bridgebuilder” within the UNHRC context
as “an expression in Geneva that means appeasing dictators.”
Sweden failed to secure spots on the council in the “Western Europe and Others”
category, the only regional group that had a competitive slate. Other regional
groups had uncompetitive slates that assured victory for those in the running as
there were enough seats for all candidates.
Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon,
Kenya and Sierra Leone were elected from Africa, and Japan, Kazakhstan,
Pakistan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates from the Asia
Estonia and Montenegro were elected from Eastern Europe, while
Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela secured seats on behalf of the Latin America and
Reuters contributed to this report.