Diplomat Defends U.S. Role on U.N. Human Rights Arm

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday defended America's membership on the U.N. Human Rights Council despite its anti-Israel bias, arguing that the U.S. presence could influence the organization.

Susan Rice told a House panel that in the past two years, the United States has effectively pushed for Libya's suspension from the 47-nation body, forced Iran to withdraw its candidacy and pressed the council to deal with human rights emergencies in the Ivory Coast. Rice said that while the organization has its flaws, it would be a mistake for the U.S. to remain on the sidelines.

"I'd rather be in there and call foul," Rice said.

Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balar questioned why the United States does not simply walk away not only from the council but also from the United Nations, calling the council a farce and suggesting the United States strengthen other organizations that are not anti-American and anti-Israel.

Rice said that would be a mistake and stressed that the U.N. addresses U.S. national security interests.

Rice said Wednesday that the United States would continue to work to end the anti-Israel bias in the council.

The council has come under renewed scrutiny after the author of a report critical of Israel backtracked on his claims that it had intentionally targeted civilians and was guilty of war crimes. The report is the Goldstone Report, authored by South African jurist Richard Goldstone.

Rice said the U.S. would like to see the U.N. end its actions related to the report and other actions stemming from it. Under questioning, she said she was not sure the report could be amended.

"What we want to see is for it to disappear," she said.

Her testimony came as Israeli President Shimon Peres met with congressional leaders.