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Leaders who attended the U.N. summit this week must now redouble their efforts to fulfill key pending initiatives like the proposed Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said today.

At the summit, world leaders agreed to establish a Human Rights Council, intended to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights, where abusive governments have been able to block condemnation of their human rights records.

The final U.N. summit document passed responsibility to the General Assembly to turn the promise of a Human Rights Council into a reality during its current session. The president of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson of Sweden, has been charged with conducting negotiations to establish the “mandate, modalities, functions, size, composition, membership, working methods and procedures for the Council.”

“Human rights victims around the world have been anxiously watching this summit, and their focus will now shift to the General Assembly,” said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. “World leaders can help redeem the promise of the U.N. summit by establishing the Human Rights Council without delay.”

In addition, the summit document included two important provisions to enhance the protection of human rights, Human Rights Watch said.

In a historic step, global leaders have recognized the “responsibility to protect civilians,” that is, to take action in the face of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This commitment—borne out of the shameful history of international inaction in places like Rwanda, Srebrenica and Darfur—is a crucial step towards a safer world.

Leaders also agreed to strengthen the main U.N. human rights body, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, by doubling its budget within the next five years.

Governments should also support immediate steps to implement both of these commitments, Human Rights Watch said.

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