A New Era of Engagement

Yesterday, the Obama administration announced that it would reverse a Bush administration decision and make bid to join the United Nations Human Rights Council, "with the goal of working to make it a more effective body to promote and protect human rights." The Council is the highest human rights body within the U.N., composed of 47 countries working to promote and strengthen human rights worldwide. It replaced the historical U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 2006, but was voted against by the Bush administration along with the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Israel. Countries bid for election for membership within the Council. Terms last for three years, and the elections are scheduled for mid-May.

This move is promising, as it affirms the administration's commitment to human rights at home and abroad and breaks with the Bush administration's disastrous unilateral approach — especially in the area of human rights. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice calls it "new era of engagement," and we couldn't agree more.

In a press release released yesterday, Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program noted:

We gladly welcome the decision of the Obama administration to join the U.N. Human Rights Council…By restoring and protecting human rights in this country, America will once again become a nation that leads by example. From this position, we are hopeful the U.S. will help make the Council an effective body for protecting the rights of all people around the world.

The next regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from June 2 to 18. Two reports will be presented by independent human rights experts appointed by the Council who conducted official country visits to the U.S. last year: the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Doudou Diene, and the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Philip Alston. The ACLU provided information to and briefed the rapporteurs, so their reports are of particular interest to our work.

We look forward to the Obama administration's constructive engagement with the council and other global human rights bodies such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and hope that human rights will be central not only in U.S. foreign policy but also in domestic policy.

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anon comment

This is good news - a positive step in the right direction. Hopefully, many of the abuses of the past (and present) will come to light and be stopped.


It is about time humans were treated as humans, by humans.

Each individual life has it's unique identity and should not be dismissed in any manner.

Critical thinking 101. Each subjective opinion is correct to the subject.

Human rights according to humans is still scary.

st pete

One of the most important things the Obama administratiion needs to do is to join and strengthen this and other international regulating groups. Economic globalization without the support of regulating entities is a recipe for disaster. Sovereignty was always going to be weakened by economic globalization anyway.


I recently viewed a film where Madeline Albright acknowledges that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a direct result of our sanctions to force Saddam Hussein to comply with our weapon inspections.This is an old film.Regardless,this is also an admiision to mass murder in every sense of the word.Not only did she acknowledge this,she further stated that even in lieu of it,the sanctions are still worth it.This is an admiited crime against humanity from someone in the Clinton administration.If the Amepeople do not stop their Gov't from these crimes they are guilty also.From atrue american who wants to be proud but cannot





how soon we forget sept11 and images of heads cut off wake up


Will this bring International Law into the United States? Isn't there something in the Constitution about not doing this. I certainly hope that International law will not replace American Law (even with all it flaws). If it does we are doomed and there will be no more ACLU we will lose all our rights. We are not the fix all to the world.

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