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Remarks on the Human Rights Council Elections

Remarks on the Human Rights Council Elections

Kristen Silverberg, Assistant Secretary, International Organization Affairs
Remarks at a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
May 9, 2006

Assistant Secretary Silverberg: I'll make this quick because the Council session is about to start. On the whole, we think that this demonstrates some progress. This is an improvement over the Commission on Human Rights. There were some members elected who, in our view, don't share a genuine commitment to Human Rights, the kind of high standard we would have hoped would have been met on the selection. On the whole, we think it is an improvement over the Commission. We are committed to engaging actively in the coming weeks with all of the elected members of the Council to make sure that this body is effective. We think that the real test of this Council will be whether it can take effective action in serious cases of human rights abuse, like Darfur, the subject of the Security Council Session today, Burma, North Korea, and other places.

Reporter: Sorry, Ambassador Bolton has said that he thought the United States could have more influence off the Council than on. What are you actually going to do to try and influence the way the Council works?

Assistant Secretary Silverberg: We are committed to engage actively as observers and that could mean lobbying for human rights resolutions, it could mean lobbying against bad resolutions. So we'll be fully engaged in Geneva as observers. I think that it's certainly true that by saying that we want the Council to meet a high standard that we'll run for election. We'll see how the Council works going forward and plan to run assuming the Council can work effectively. I think that will keep the Council focused on the kinds of effective action it needs to take in serious cases.

Reporter: What is your reaction to Cuba's election?

Assistant Secretary Silverberg: The U.S. doesn't disclose our votes on the Council. But I think it's no surprise that we don't think Cuba has a strong record on human rights. It was our view that ever member of the Council should be there for the right reasons, should be there because of their genuine commitment to the promotion of human rights and international organizations and we don't think Cuba met that standard.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Assistant Secretary Silverberg: We think, as I said, we think it is an improvement over the Commission. On the whole, it is an improvement, but there are some members who we don't think meet the high standard we set out. Thank you.

Released on May 17, 2006


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