Archive for Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New U.N. rights council convenes

June 20, 2006

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— The United Nations inaugurated its new Human Rights Council on Monday, vowing to uphold the highest standards of human rights and erase the tarnished image of its predecessor despite lingering doubts about its effectiveness.

The 47-member council replaces the Human Rights Commission, which became discredited in recent years as rights-abusing countries conspired to escape condemnation.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the council's members not to squander the opportunity.

"Never allow this council to become caught up in political point-scoring or petty maneuver," Annan said. "Think always of those whose rights are denied."

He said the council has a chance to start its work with a tangible achievement by passing two "vital documents" - one against enforced disappearances, the other guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples - and sending them for approval by the General Assembly.

However, the council's first meeting, which runs through June 30, aims only to establish its operating procedures, including how it should carry out human rights reviews of all 191 U.N. member states, and how often.

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