UNITED NATIONS — The United States Tuesday was elected, along with China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, to the UN Human Rights Council, a body shunned by the previous U.S. administration for harboring notorious rights violators.
But the secret balloting that saw 20 countries contest the 18 seats up for grabs on the 47-member, Geneva-based Council was criticized by some rights advocates for not being competitive enough.
Only Kenya and Azerbaijan were shut out of their respective regional groups.
The United States received 167 votes and was elected along with Norway (179) and Belgium (177) in the three-way contest in the Western States group.
Candidate nations require an absolute majority, or 97 votes, in the 192-member assembly, to be elected to staggered three-year terms.
Council seats are allocated according to regional representation (13 for Africa, 13 for Asia, six for eastern Europe, eight for Latin America and the Caribbean and seven for Western states).
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice welcomed her country’s election, telling reporters after the vote: “We are gratified by the strong support we received.”
She said that although the council was a “flawed body,” President Barack Obama’s administration was looking forward to working from within with a broad cross-section of members to make it more effective.