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US decision on Human Rights Council elections 'disappoints' UN

[JURIST] The United Nations has expressed disappointment [press briefing transcript] in the US decision not to run [JURIST report] for a position on the new UN Human Rights Council [official website; UN materials; FAQ]. Spokesmen for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] and UN General Assembly President Jan Eliasson [official profile], however, expressed hope that the US would continue to support the purpose and work of the council, and that it will run for a seat next year. International human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and UN Watch [advocacy websites] echoed the UN's concerns, emphasizing Washington's potential to influence the council, even from its non-member position. Specifically, HRW suggested [press release] the US participate in shaping the body's rules and procedures and bring abuses to the council's attention.

In its press statement announcing the decision not to participate, the Bush Administration vowed to support "candidates genuinely committed to the promotion and protection of human rights" and said the US will likely run for a council position next year. The US voted against [JURIST report] the resolution [JURIST document] to create the council, which replaces the widely criticized Commission on Human Rights [official website], arguing that there are inadequate checks [JURIST report] to prevent membership by countries with poor human rights records. The list of candidates [official website] for the May 9 election currently includes 43 submissions. Reuters has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

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