Groups Praise US Election to Human Rights Council

by ekramer on May 14, 2009

Some local groups are praising this week’s election of the United States to the United Nation’s top human rights group. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The UN General Assembly elected the US to UN Human Rights Council Tuesday. In 2006, the Bush administration refused to join the group, saying it included repressive governments.

Representatives from the Louisville chapter of the United Nations Association and Presbyterian Church U.S.A. say US work on the council can help improve human rights worldwide.

Sara Lisherness helps oversee the Presbyterian Church’s work in relief and development in 87 countries.

“Even though the Human Rights Council is a less than perfect venue, it is the only venue right now in which the conversations about protecting the human rights of people is being engaged by the nation’s of the world,” Lisherness says.

Matt Hanka of the United Nations Association says working through the UN always involves a careful balancing act of supporting human rights without undermining state sovereignty.

Lisherness says membership on the council means more action from the U.S.

“We do have a responsibility to continue to confront and challenge that brokenness and that sin; challenge those nations that are flagrant abusers of human rights and continue to press for justice and a greater equality,” she says.

The United Nations Association’s Matt Hanka says the UN is a human institution with flaws, but that the council is a key forum for addressing abuses. He says US involvement in the council is one of the best ways to improve the group’s effectiveness.

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