President Obama's ambassador to the UN declined Tuesday to single out serial human rights abusers elected to the UN's Human Rights Council even as she called on the body to “do more to protect and advance their citizens’ universal rights.”
"Fourteen countries were elected to the Human Rights Council today, including some that commit significant violations of the rights the Council is designed to advance and protect," Samantha Power said in a statement. "Today's election in the General Assembly is a reminder that the Council’s important work remains unfinished."
Power's comments come after UN members elected 14 new members to the 47-seat council. The election of five nations in particular – China, Russia, Cuba, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia – infuriated UN critics who have long held the council in contempt.
“The UN has long strayed from the ideals of its Charter and the fact that the General Assembly admitted these blatant human rights abusers to the very body that is designed to protect human rights reaffirms the brokenness of this international body and its desperate need for reform,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “The United States should immediately withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council and cease to fund any of its activities until it begins to act in defense of those who need protection.”
Power however argued for stronger U.S. involvement with “governments, citizens, civil society organizations and the United Nations” for progress on human rights. The United States was elected to a three-year term on the council in November.
“The United States is committed to the goal of a United Nations Human Rights Council capable of advancing the fundamental rights, freedoms, and dignity of individuals worldwide,” she said in a statement.
“If the Human Rights Council is to become more effective, fair and credible, then all who have the privilege of serving on the Council must do more to protect and advance their citizens’ universal rights.”
The other nine countries elected to the panel are Algeria, Britain, France, the Maldives, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia and South Africa.
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