Norway Welcomes US Candidacy to the Human Rights Council
The U.S. has decided to put forward its candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council in the elections to be held in the UN General Assembly in May 2009. Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre welcomes the news of the US candidacy and the country’s decision to engage in the work of the Council.
According to the State Department press release, the decision is in keeping with the Obama Administration’s “new era of engagement” and the fact that human rights are an essential element of American foreign policy. They feel that they can make the Council more effective by working from within. The US will now work with other countries to improve the UN human rights system to advance the vision of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
“We welcome this news and look forward to closer cooperation with the U.S. in this area if both countries are elected to the Human Rights Council. The Council is the UN’s most important body for promoting and strengthening human rights. The fact that the US has decided to re-engage in the Council’s work will enhance its legitimacy and effectiveness,” said Støre.
Eighteen of the seats on the Council will be up for election in New York on 12 May. Of Western countries, Norway, Belgium and New Zealand launched their candidacy for three of the permanent seats reserved for this group. New Zealand has now withdrawn its candidacy. Norway, Belgium and the US need the support of a majority of the UN member countries in order to be elected. Members of the Council are elected for a three-year period.
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The Council was created by the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 with the main purpose of addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.