Rich Galen

During the presidency of George W. Bush, member states of the United Nations declined to re-elect the United States to one of the seats reserved for Western States on the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

They elected, instead, France, Austria and Sweden.

The Bush Administration was unmoved by the slight, pointing out that the UN Human Rights Commission routinely elected such paragons of human rights as Rwanda, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Somalia, and Uganda.

In fact, when the UN membership elected Sudan to the human rights organization, according to MSNBC

"U.S. Ambassador Sichan Siv called the vote an "absurdity" and accused Sudan of massive human rights violations and "ethnic cleansing" in the western Darfur region before getting up from his chair and walking out of the Economic and Social Council chamber."

Old news. Got that. Here is some UN background.

There are 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly. Each gets the same number of votes: One.

That is true whether the member state is China (population 1.4 billion) or Tuvalu (population 10,698).

According to the CIA's "World Factbook" Tuvalu is the smallest member of the UN, but not the nation with the smallest population.

That honor goes to Pitcairn Islands with a total population of 48.

Oh, this is interesting! The legislature of Tuvalu is made up of 11 people which means about 23 percent of the population is involved. If the U.S. had a similar representational ratio, the U.S. Congress would be made up of 72.8 million people.

And they still wouldn't get anything done.

The U.N. Security Council is made up of just 15 members. Five permanent members are the allies from World War II: U.S., France, U.K., Russia and China.

Note, neither Germany and Japan are members of the Security Council because they lost World War II which ended about 68 years ago. The UN is not noted for moving quickly.

There are also 10 rotating member countries, which are elected by the General Assembly to serve two year terms.

According to the rules in place since 1945 each of the five Permanent Members has veto power over any decision taken by the Council. The rotating members do not possess that authority.

Last week Saudi Arabia was elected to the Security Council for the first time. The Saudis declined the honor.

The Arab Press, published in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia reported that

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at