Friday, November 9, 2007

UN Members Urged to Pull Human Rights Council Into Line

by Patrick Goodenough from

Twenty-seven non-governmental organizations led by U.N. Watch and Freedom House have written to all U.N. member states, asking them to amend the package. The proposed changes to council procedures would make it harder than ever to introduce resolutions against "serial abusers" like North Korea and Sudan, said Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based NGO affiliated with the American Jewish Committee. "U.N. officials and member states have one last chance to save the Human Rights Council from itself," he said. In a separate appeal to the General Assembly, the press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders focused on the decision not to renew the mandates of the investigators -- known in U.N. jargon as "special rapporteurs" -- for Cuba and Belarus ... The council's members include countries that rights campaigners name among the world's worst abusers, including China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Russia. "Some appear more determined to use the council to defend abusive governments than to protect the victims of human rights violations," U.S. diplomat Robert Hagen told the General Assembly on Tuesday.

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