|Issue of the Day: US Elected to UN Human Rights Council After 3 Year Absence|
Published Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009
For the first time since the election reforms of the new United Nations Human Rights Council (previously known as the U.N. Human Rights Commission), the United States has been elected to sit on the 47 member council. The US had initially opposed the creation of the Council and refused to stand for election three years ago along with Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau. Initially, the Bush Administration agreed to fund the council and be an observer, but this was withdrawn. The Obama Administration reversed the Bush position and was elected along with 17 other countries such as Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and Kyrgyzstan.
US and UN relations have been strained in other aspects of administration, especially in regards to contributions. The United States has, since 1992, sought a U.N. General Assembly reduction of the US peacekeeping assessment (budget contribution) to 25%, which would have increased other countries’ assessments. Despite the General Assembly’s refusal, the US has since Fiscal Year 1995 set its own assessment level of 25%. In 2001, the UN agreed to progressively reduce the US assessment levels; those levels have shrunk from the 28.15% in 2001 to 26% in 2007. However in 2005, despite Senator Biden’s efforts to set the cap at 27.1%, Congress chose to keep the US assessment at 25%. According to the UN, the efforts to cap its assessment have lead to an accumulation of debt by the US for its UN peacekeeping accounts at $1.3 billion, as well as a General Budget debt of 846 million.