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US again refuses to run for UN rights council seat

[JURIST] The US State Department [official website] announced Tuesday that once again the United States will not run [press briefing transcript; video] for a seat on the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council [official website; JURIST news archive]. The US said last year that it would not seek election [JURIST report] because some of the other countries vying for council seats "systematically abuse human rights," but this year US officials cited an anti-Israeli bias as its reason for not running. Spokesman Sean McCormack said that the council has not proven itself to be a credible body, and has had a "nearly singular focus on issues related to Israel." When asked why the US didn't run and try to take a leadership role in the council, McCormack said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [official profile] thought it would be more effective to work outside the group as an example of what the Human Rights Council should be. Last year a number of observers speculated that if the US ran it risked an embarrassing loss or at least a visible lack of general support because of harsh US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Iraq. The same concerns could apply again this year.

The Democratic chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs [official website] decried the decision [press release], calling it an "act of unparalleled defeatism" that would allow rogue states to continue to control the world's human rights machinery." AP has more.

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