I support the active involvement of the United States as a leading member of the United Nations. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent through global trade, travel, and expanded communications, it is critical that nations find ways to work together cooperatively to enhance peace and security, promote global health, exchange information, and provide educational opportunities.
Since the United States led the effort to create the United Nations after World War II, the UN has achieved some very important successes. For example, The World Health Organization, a UN entity, led the successful effort to eliminate the scourge of smallpox. Due to its efforts, this fatal disease was eradicated in 1977. And now we are just a year or two away from eliminating polio, as well.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works worldwide to protect children from exploitation and abuse, and helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. In addition, United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Cyprus, the Sinai, El Salvador, and Namibia are just some of the very successful peacekeeping operations that the UN has conducted.
Earlier this year, the UN General Assembly voted to create the Human Rights Council (HRC), which will be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. The new council will replace the Human Rights Commission, which has been criticized as ineffective and lacking accountability. The new HRC will hold at least three sessions a year, and its members would undergo a review of their human rights record. I believe that the HRC is a clear improvement over the previous commission, offering tools to enforce high standards for human rights.
I am disappointed that the Bush Administration decided not to seek a seat on the HRC for the United States. This is a lost opportunity for the U.S. to continue our over 50 year old effort to use the UN as a mechanism to promote and protect human rights globally. If the UN is to become a more effective force in securing international peace, greater U.S. leadership and participation will be required.