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US reelected to UN Human Rights Council seat

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States was reelected Monday to another three-year term on the U.N. Human Rights Council in the only contested election for the organization's top human rights body.

The U.S. was competing with four Western countries for three seats on the council. Germany and Ireland were also elected by the 193-member General Assembly.

African, Asian, Eastern European and Latin American countries put forward uncontested slates, meaning candidates were virtually certain of winning seats on the 47-member council.

Several human rights groups have criticized a number of the candidates as unqualified, including ones from Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Venezuela.

The five Western nations competing for seats — the U.S., Germany, Greece, Ireland and Sweden — were all deemed qualified by the rights groups.

Argentina, Brazil, Ivory Coast, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Montenegro, Pakistan, South Korea, Sierra Leone, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela were also elected Monday to three-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

The Human Rights Council was created in March 2006 to replace the U.N.'s widely discredited and highly politicized Human Rights Commission. But the council has also been widely criticized for failing to change many of the commission's practices, including putting much more emphasis on Israel than on any other country and electing candidates accused of serious human rights violations.

Former President George W. Bush's administration boycotted the council when it was established because of its repeated criticism of Israel and its refusal to cite flagrant rights abuses in Sudan and elsewhere. But in 2009, then newly elected President Barack Obama sought to join the council, saying the U.S. wanted to help make it more effective.

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