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Trying to Reform the United Nations from the Inside

Human rights advocates disagree on whether the U.S. will help by joining a controversial council.

The U.S. State Department announced last Tuesday it would run for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, signaling a change in policy. Many see the organization as committed, ironically, to the interests of human rights violators and question whether the U.S. should be involved.

Last week, the council adopted a resolution against the defamation of religions that was opposed by the Western nations on the council. The statement implies religions, like individuals, have rights. Critics said the nonbinding resolution would actually be used by the Muslim countries that promoted it to persecute Christians and other religious minorities.

The council has passed similar resolutions despite European and North American objections. Because the council structure gives seats by geographic region, human rights violators can often win. Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and China are running for re-election.

The U.S. began to sit in on council meetings as an observer about a month ago. State Department ...

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