United Nations Human Rights Council: Issues for Congress [December 19, 2011]   [open pdf - 376KB]

"On March 15, 2006, the U.N. [United Nations] General Assembly passed a resolution replacing the Commission on Human Rights with a new Human Rights Council (the Council). The U.N. Secretariat and some governments, including the United States, viewed the establishment of the Council as a key component of comprehensive U.N. reform. The Council was designed to be an improvement over the Commission, which was widely criticized for the composition of its membership when perceived human rights abusers were elected as members. The General Assembly resolution creating the Council, among other things, increased the number of meetings per year and introduced a 'universal periodic review' process to assess each member state's fulfillment of its human rights obligations. One hundred seventy countries voted in favor of the resolution to create the Council. The United States, under the George W. Bush Administration, was one of four countries to vote against the resolution. […] In March 2009, the Barack Obama Administration announced that it would run for a seat on the Council. The United States was elected as a Council member by the U.N. General Assembly on May 12, 2009, and its term began on June 19, 2009. […] The Council held a five-year review of its work in March 2011. Some participants, including the United States, felt the review did not sufficiently address the Council's weaknesses, particularly its focus on Israel and lack of mechanisms for ensuring credible membership. Congress maintains an ongoing interest in the credibility and effectiveness of the Council in the context of both human rights and broader U.N. reform."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33608
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