"Human rights are an essential element of American global foreign policy," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement. "With others, we will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system to advance the vision of the
U.N. Declaration on Human Rights. The United States helped to found the United Nations and retains a vital stake in advancing that organization's genuine commitment to the human rights values that we share with other member nations. We believe every nation must live by and help shape global rules that ensure people enjoy the right to live freely and participate fully in their societies."
The Obama administration decided Tuesday to seek a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, reversing a decision by the Bush administration to shun the United Nations' premier rights body to protest the influence of repressive states.
The United States announced it would participate in elections in May for one of three seats on the 47-member council, joining a slate that includes Belgium, Norway and New Zealand. New Zealand has offered to step aside to allow the United States to run unchallenged, according to a U.S. official.
Human rights activists have been advocating U.S. membership in the council since its creation in March 2006.