The United States won a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council for the first time along with four countries accused of serious human rights violations — Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.

Former President George W. Bush's administration boycotted the council over its repeated criticism of Israel and its refusal to cite flagrant rights abuses in Sudan and elsewhere.

President Barack Obama's administration announced in March the U.S. would seek to join the council to help make the U.N.'s most important human rights body more effective in line with the president's desire to create a "new era of engagement."

The U.S. received 167 votes Tuesday for its seat on the 47-member council, far more than 97 votes needed in the secret ballot.