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May 24

The United Nations Human Rights Council: Has U.S. Membership Made it More Effective?

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The UN Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace the discredited UN Commission on Human Rights that had failed to hold governments to account for violating basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. Expressing concerns about whether the Council would prove to be an improvement over the Commission, the Bush Administration declined to seek a seat on the Council pending evidence of its effectiveness and distanced itself from its deliberations except in instances of “deep national interest.” Sadly, the record of the Council from 2006 and 2009 was gravely disappointing.

Undaunted, the Obama Administration sought and won a seat on the Council in 2009 and invested significant diplomatic resources to “make it a more effective body to promote and protect human rights.” Has the work of the Council over the past two years shown it to be a more effective body? How successful has the United States investment been in focusing the work of that body on promoting fundamental human rights and confronting UN member states about their unwillingness to respect those rights? Have the benefits of that investment outweighed the costs? What reforms have been adopted to ensure that these improvements and benefits, if any, prove permanent?

More About the Speakers

Suzanne Nossel
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director, UN Watch

Brett Schaefer
Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs, The Heritage Foundation

Hosted By

Steven Groves Steven Groves

Bernard and Barbara Lomas Senior Research Fellow Read More