[JURIST] The UN General Assembly Tuesday elected 47 member states to founding seats on the new UN Human Rights Council [official website; JURIST news archive]. The successful candidates included Russia and China, which recently have come under US criticism [JURIST report on Cheney Russia speech; JURIST report on US House criticism of China rights record] for restrictive human rights practices. Seats also went to Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan, similarly characterized by the US and international rights groups as human rights violators, although controversial bids for seats by Iran, Iraq, and Venezuela were rejected. The United States decided not to run for a Human Rights Council seat [JURIST report] in April, giving rise to speculation that in the current context of prisoner abuses by US personnel in the "war against terror" it might not have been able to muster the 96 UN General Assembly votes necessary for a successful membership drive. The UK, France, and Canada were the most prominent Western states winning seats; places also went to Japan, India, South Africa and Nigeria. Review the full list of candidates and elected states. Reuters has more. The UN News Center has additional coverage.
In March the US led a tiny minority of 4 countries opposing [JURIST report] the resolution [JURIST document] creating the Council, insisting that it wanted more to be done to prevent abusive countries from gaining membership [JURIST report]. The new body, which replaces the troubled UN Commission on Human Rights [official website], meets for the first time in Geneva on June 19.