Sunday, September 04, 2005

US position on UN Human Rights Council to replace Commission

This press release from the State Department outlines the official US view of what a new UN Human Rights Council, to replace the discredited UN Human Rights Commission. The key position is that countries on the Council would have to be peer vetted to try and establish standards for membership. This is far from what Secretary General Kofi Annan has proposed, which would leave membership in the hands of the General Assembly, thus reproducing all the problems that already exist of having the world's leading human rights abusers serving on the Commission. On the other hand, I can see plenty of opportunities for problems in a peer vetted arrangement - the US would find itself endlessly vetted by Western Europe on matters ranging from the death penalty to the rights of the child. No matter what happens, abolishing the Commission is a step forward - even if it were replaced by nothing official, and the pressure on human rights issues left in the hands of ad hoc bodies, such as the Caucus of Democracies.

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