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Amnesty petitions US new UN Human Rights Council

Amnesty members petition U.S.A. to support new UN Human Rights Council

Amnesty International is mobilizing its members in the United States of America and around the world, calling on the U.S. government to support the formation of an effective new UN Human Rights Council.

"The U.S. administration should not jeopardize the best chance in decades to establish a more effective UN human rights body, " said Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan. "This historic opportunity must not be squandered, otherwise victims of human rights around the world will continue to suffer."

The UN General Assembly could act on a draft UN resolution that would establish the Human Rights Council as early as this week. However U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, who says he wants "improvements" in the draft resolution, has called for a renegotiation of the text or postponement of its consideration for a few months.

If the draft is reopened for negotiation, Amnesty International believes that there is a high risk that the text will be further weakened and result in a far less effective Council. If its adoption is postponed, negotiations could be indefinitely delayed or collapse altogether.

There is overwhelming support throughout the UN membership for the current draft resolution, most recently by the European Union. That text, which is the result of long and difficult negotiations, offers the best chance to replace the Commission on Human Rights with a new body better able to react swiftly to grave and chronic human rights violations. It also promises to ensure the election to the Council of a membership more committed to the promotion and protection of human rights than that of the Commission on Human Rights.

"The text is not perfect; it does not meet all the criteria we wanted, but it offers long-lasting and positive opportunities for better human rights protection. Calling for changes and threatening to put the resolution to a vote as the U.S. government has done just offers a few spoilers who don't want a stronger human rights system an opportunity to weaken the new body," said Ms Khan.

Amnesty International is calling on all governments to adopt the draft resolution without delay, thus realizing the commitment made by world leaders at the 2005 World Summit, including President Bush, to strengthen the United Nations' human rights machinery.

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