The United States and Venezuela will now serve together on the United Nations Human Rights Council, after both countries won elections today to serve together. Venezuela received 154 votes and is in the Latin American group, while the U.S. received 131 and is in the Western group.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, praised the Human Rights Council in remarks to reporters for "increasingly proving its value."
"[T]he United States is clearly of the view that the Human Rights Council has its flaws, and I just enumerated a couple of them, including its excessive focus on Israel," said Rice. "But it is also a body that is increasingly proving its value, and we’ve been proud to contribute to some of what we think are the finer moments of the Human Rights Council: its approach to Syria, its approach to Sudan, its approach to the situation in Libya with the Commission of Inquiry. I could name many other instances—it’s standing up now strongly in support of the protection of the rights of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. It’s staked out important and, we think, comparatively progressive positions on the difficult issue of defamation of religion. So, across the board, there’s been real important progress, and we’ve been proud to be part of that. And that’s why we wanted to run for a second term, so that we could build on that progress in partnership with others and prove that even those elements of the system which have their flaws can benefit from strong American leadership joined with the principled leadership of others around the world."
Secretary State Hillary Clinton expressed her pleasure with the U.S. election to the body.
"The United States is pleased to have been elected by the United Nations General Assembly to a second term on the Human Rights Council," said Clinton in a prepared statement. "We thank the countries that voted for us in what was a highly competitive race among several qualified Western candidates that are all strong champions of human rights. We pledge to continue to work closely with the international community to address urgent and serious human rights concerns worldwide and to strengthen the Council. While much hard work remains to be done, especially ending the Council’s disproportionate and biased focus on Israel, we look forward to cooperating with other Council members to continue to address human rights concerns and to ensure that the Council fully realizes its promise."