Monday, April 11, 2005

Annan Outlines A New UN Human Rights Council

In a speech last Thursday to the UN HR Commission, Kofi Annan laid out his vision for a new Human Rights Council to replace the very Commission he was addressing. He noted that the Commission's ability to perform the tasks for which it was formed has been both overtaken by new challenges and by the politicization and selectivity of its work. He proposes scrapping it in favor of a Human Rights Council, whose membership would be elected by at least 2/3 of the General Assembly. Only those states that themselves meet minimal standards of accountability for human rights violations would qualify for membership. In other words, no more embarassments whereby Libya and Sudan have gained seats on the current HR Commission. Moreover, Annan sees it as a chamber that would have broad authority for peer review -- evaluating the performance of ALL states against their obligations under the main human rights instruments. I am not one to normally argue that change for the sake of change is a good thing. But it is hard to imagine that this new Council will be worse than the Commission. (See my earlier discussions here and here.) As the proposal develops and more commentary is available, I will keep you all posted.

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