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U.S. to Join U.N. Human Rights Council, Reversing Bush Policy

Resource type: News

The Washington Post |

Original Source

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 — The Obama administration decided Tuesday to join the U.N. Human Rights Council, reversing a decision by the Bush administration to shun the United Nations’ premier rights body to protest the influence of repressive states, according to U.N. diplomats and rights activists.

The United States will participate in elections in May for one of three seats on the 47-member council, joining a slate that includes Belgium, Norway and New Zealand. New Zealand has offered to step aside to allow the United States to run unchallenged, according to a U.S. official.

Human rights activists have been advocating U.S. membership in the council since its creation in March 2006. The United States is expected to announce its plan to join later Tuesday.

“This is a welcome step that gives the United States and other defenders of human rights a fighting chance to make the institution more effective,” said a human rights advocate familiar with the decision. “I think everybody is just desperate to have the United States and Barack Obama run for the human rights council, and countries are willing to bend over backward to make that happen.”

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