It looks like New Zealand has officially pulled out of contention for the third seat reserved for Western countries on the UN Human Rights Council. This paves the way for the unopposed election of United States.
On the one hand, the decision by the United States to join the council sends an excellent message to the rest of the world that the United States is ready to engage diplomatically in multi-lateral forums. With a seat at the table, the United States will be in a better position to guide the work of the council and pursue American interests there. The Israelis (who have often been the target of council statements) seem to agree.
Still, I’m somewhat disappointed that the United States will run unopposed.
To win a seat on the Human Rights Council, countries must secure the votes of at least two-thirds an absulte majority (97 votes) of the General Assembly. Each regional bloc is assigned a set number of seats and all too often regional groups negotiate internally to put up a slate of candidates equal to the number of seats available. This can result in the inclusion of countries on the human rights council that probably should not be there.
I do believe if the United States ran in a four way race with New Zealand, Norway, and Belgium the United States would win. And in winning a competetive election, the United States would affirm the procedures that make the council stronger in the long term.
Ah, well. I guess I should just be pleased that the United States decided to join in the first place.