United Nations Human Rights Council: Issues for Congress [February 4, 2014]   [open pdf - 363KB]

"On March 15, 2006, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution replacing the Commission on Human Rights with a new Human Rights Council (the Council). 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 modified voting procedures, 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, among other things. The United States, under the George W. Bush Administration, was one of four countries to vote against the resolution. The Administration maintained that the Council structure was no better than the Commission and that it lacked mechanisms for maintaining credible membership. During the Council's first two years, the Bush Administration expressed concern with the Council's disproportionate focus on Israel and lack of attention to other human rights situations. In mid- 2008, it announced that the United States would withhold a portion of its contributions to the 2008 U.N. regular budget equivalent to the U.S. share of the Human Rights Council budget. The Administration further stated that the United States would engage with the Council only in matters of deep national interest."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33608
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