World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Time For New UN Rights Body

Time For New UN Rights Body Is Now As Status Quo Cannot Continue, Says Top Official

New York, Apr 22 2005

Faced with major deficiencies, over-politicization and only selective reviews of countries' abuses, the United Nations Human Rights Commission wrapped up its annual session today with a ringing call for its replacement by a leaner, meaner body, as put forward in Secretary-General Kofi Annan's reform proposals.

"The space is there, now, for its creation: the status quo on this issue is not a credible option," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour <"">told the closing meeting of the 53-member body's <"">sixty-first session in Geneva.

"Simply put, the Commission's ability to address issues of human rights concern at the national level is demonstrably deficient," she said of the panel that Mr. Annan wants to replace with a streamlined, more authoritative and more empowered body elected by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly.

There is something fundamentally wrong with a system in which the decision as to whether or not a country situation is addressed is viewed either as a political triumph or a political defeat, she declared.

"There is something fundamentally wrong with a system in which the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world is answered only by reference to four states," she added, referring to resolutions adopted at the session on Myanmar, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cuba and Belarus.

"I put it to you that it is a discredit to this Commission to view these decisions as political victories or losses. I say this in the full knowledge, and with all due respect for the fact that yours is an inter-governmental body.

"To suggest it should be apolitical is somewhat akin to criticizing spring for coming after winter. But political considerations should not be allowed to by-pass entirely the substance of the work entrusted to the Commission. The fact that only four states were singled out does not make them less answerable for the human rights situations in their countries," she said.

"But, equally, a reasonable person might ask whether it is really so that only four countries merited scrutiny by this Commission when it considered the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world."

On 7 April, Mr. Annan warned the Commission that the very credibility of the UN was at stake in the way it addresses human rights abuses worldwide. "Unless we re-make our human rights machinery, we may be unable to renew public confidence in the United Nations itself," he said then.

Today, Ms. Arbour emphasized the Secretary-General's recommendation that the body be refined, improved and heightened in stature as the new Human Right Council.

"As you have now agreed to reflect coherently on the recommendations of the Secretary-General through an open-ended Working Group in June, I am confident that you will embark on this exercise fully committed to the enhancement of human rights worldwide," she said.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news