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Annan urges US to take leadership role in human rights

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] encouraged the US on Friday to lead the world in advancing human rights in a speech [text] at George Washington University, and criticized the Bush administration for deciding not to seek a position [JURIST report] to the new UN Human Rights Council [official website; JURIST news archive]. Annan noted that the first members of the Human Rights Council will be responsible for shaping its direction, and that US involvement would help provide a "spectacular improvement" over the former UN Commission on Human Rights, but further added that he does not think the US can ensure a "peaceful and stable future for humanity" on its own. AP has more.

The new UN Human Rights Council will hold elections next week, but the US decided not to seek a seat on the council after voting against [JURIST report] the resolution [JURIST document] to create the council. The Bush administration argued that there are inadequate checks [JURIST report] to prevent membership by countries with poor human rights records. However, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday that future US participation on the Human Rights Council is a possibility. The list of candidates [official website; HRW analysis] for the May 9 election currently includes 43 submissions.

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