The United States should not hold back payment of its United Nations dues because of the loss of its seat on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, major human rights groups said in letters to Senators Jesse Helms and Joseph Biden and Representatives Tom Lantos and Henry Hyde.

The letters, released today, argue that the commission has helped advance human rights despite its many flaws and that the U.S. should remain engaged in its work.

"Withholding U.N. dues would make it harder, not easier, for the U.S. to regain its seat," said Tom Malinowski, Washington Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch, one of the groups that signed the letters. "Instead of writing off the commission, the U.S. should take the process of multilateral diplomacy more seriously so that votes for human rights are won, not lost."

The groups that signed the letters are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the International Human Rights Law Group, the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, and Physicians for Human Rights.