Human Rights Watch

MARCH 27, 2006
4:21 PM

CONTACT: Human Rights Watch
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U.N.: New Rights Council Must Exclude Abusive States

NEW YORK - March 27 - Countries that commit atrocities should not be granted membership on the United Nations’ newly created Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said today.

In a letter to members of the U.N. General Assembly, Human Rights Watch called on member states to reject Council membership for abusive countries. States that could make positive contributions on the Council should declare their candidacies early and present their human rights agendas so that the May 9 elections produce a Council ready to address crises and protect victims.  
The Human Rights Commission became increasingly discredited as abusive governments used their seats to block scrutiny of violations. This problem was at the heart of the General Assembly’s decision on March 15 to terminate the Commission and replace with the Council.  
Previously, candidates for the Commission were put forward by regional groups and rubber-stamped by the U.N. Economic and Social Council. Now, election to the Council will require an affirmative vote of 96 of the 191 members of the General Assembly.  
“Reform of the top U.N. human rights body will depend on these membership elections,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The Council should exclude countries like Nepal, Sudan and Zimbabwe. If abusive countries like these gain seats, we will be back at square one”  
On June 19, the new Council will meet in Geneva for the first time.  
Letter to U.N. Ambassadors about Election Procedures for the new Human Rights Council