UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States was re-elected Monday to another three-year term on the U.N. Human Rights Council in the only contested election for the organization's top human rights body.
The U.S. was competing with four countries for three open seats belonging to the Western Group on the council. Germany and Ireland were also elected by the 193-member General Assembly. Greece and Sweden lost out.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said her country was "pleased and proud to have been re-elected to a second three-year term."
"I'm proud to say that, today, the Obama administration's leadership of the Human Rights Council has delivered real results. Today's vote affirms that active U.S. leadership in the Human Rights Council and throughout the United Nations system will continue to pay real dividends for Americans and for the rest of the world," Rice said following the vote.
Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig also praised the vote, thanking member states for their support.
"It was a good sign that we had a healthy competition at least in the Western Group, we could explain and promote our human rights agenda and we believe this also should also be an example for other regional groups," Wittig said.
African, Asian, Eastern European and Latin American countries put forward uncontested slates, meaning candidates were virtually certain of winning one of the 18 open seats up for grabs in this year's election on the 47-member council.
Several human rights groups have criticized a number of the candidates as unqualified, including Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Venezuela.
On Monday, Venezuela's U.N. Ambassador Jorge Valero said his country's efforts to become a member of the council had "unleashed a truly unusual campaign."
"It's important to emphasize that Venezuela has committed itself to defend the sovereignty and liberty of people," Valerio said in an apparent allusion to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's comments that Venezuela would oppose any actions or aggressions against allied countries such as Syria or Cuba.
The five Western nations competing for seats were all deemed qualified by the rights groups as was Estonia, which was elected from the Eastern Europe group. Continued...