US to face first review at UN rights council
The United States will take centre stage at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, in a session likely to see some of Washington's thorniest policies face criticism, DPA repported.
For the US, this will be the first time it faces the council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism which aims to ensure that every country has to be accountable for its human rights record.
Started in 2008, the UPR is over half way through a four-year cycle, which at its conclusion will see all 192 member-states of the UN stand before the council.
Much of Washington's report to the Geneva-based council focused on issues pertaining to equality, fairness and dignity within the country's borders.
The report explained both the death penalty, which is controversially still in use, and the jail system, which has faced intense criticism from human rights groups for harsh conditions and a disproportionately large number of people behind bars.
The US delegation to Geneva, expected to include some 30 officials being flown in, will also likely focus on President Barack Obama's recently passed health care reform, as a human rights achievement.
Guantanamo Bay also featured extensively in the US report, mostly in an effort to explain Obama's decision to close the detention facility, an order which has not been carried out, much to the chagrin of allies abroad.
Following the recent defeat his Democratic Party suffered in the elections for Congress, in which they lost control over the lower house, closing the highly emblematic detention camp might be even tougher for Obama.
The US delegation in Geneva is expected to be asked tough questions, by friend and foe alike.
European allies will push for greater action by the US to improve conditions of prisoners, abolish the death penalty, stop torture, bolster workers and enhance gay rights.
Countries in the southern hemisphere will likely want answers on US immigration policy.
The US military's actions abroad, including in Pakistan and Afghanistan, will also be looked at closely, including by countries that are staunchly opposed to US foreign policy, such as Iran.
Obama chose to have the US join the 47-member council within his first months in office, reversing a decision by George W Bush, who was staunchly opposed to the UN rights body.