I blogged two days ago that there was a potential huge win-win if NZ withdrew from the race for a place on the thoroughly discredited Human Rights Council, as the Obama administration was clean to re-engage with it, and reform it (I doubt anyone can but good on Obama for trying).
Murray McCully seemingly agrees, and has announced NZ is withdrawing to make room for the US.
New Zealand has decided not to pursue its candidature for election to the Human Rights Council in 2009, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced today.
Mr McCully said the decision had been made to avoid four nations contesting three positions, following the United States’ indication that it would seek a Council seat.
This will gain us some serious kudos with the Obama Administration. They will repay the favour at some stage. So we gain a big IOU from the most powerful country on Earth, and best of all the concession is something we should have done anyway.
“The Human Rights Council has been widely criticised. It was our intention, in seeking election, to provide a force for change and improvement. However we believe that US membership of the Council will strengthen it, and make it more effective.
“That is in the interests of all those who, like New Zealand, want to see the Council respond robustly and effectively to human rights violations wherever they occur.
“Frankly, by any objective measure, membership of the Council by the US is more likely to create positive changes more quickly than we could have hoped to achieve them.
“This decision was not taken lightly but we see New Zealand’s standing aside as being in the best interests of the advancement of international human rights at this time.
The best interests of international human rights would be to kick all the dictatorships off the Council. But failing that, the US is going to be have a higher chance of sucess than a minnow like NZ. In some areas like the Security Council (and there I support our bid 1000%) we can play a very constructive role. But the Human Rights Council has far too many vested interests with countries actually wanting to use it to supress the right to criticise religions.
So for someone like me who saw our bid as misguided, this is an absolute win-win. But even if you are one of those optimists who thinks we could have done some good there, there is no doubt we gain far more kudos for letting the US back on and having Obama owe us one.