US Lands Seat on UN Human Rights Council
Bush White House had boycotted body over Israel, Darfur stances
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 12, 2009 12:52 PM CDT
An Iranian minister takes questions after a speech at the UN Human Rights Council last year.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The US today won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council for the first time, along with four countries accused of serious human rights violations: Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia. President Bush's administration had boycotted the council over its repeated criticism of Israel and its refusal to cite flagrant rights abuses in Sudan and elsewhere.

The US received 167 votes for its seat on the 47-member council, far more than the 97 votes needed in the secret ballot.The Obama administration announced in March a desire to join the council to help make the UN's most important human rights body more effective—in line with the president's desire to create a "new era of engagement."