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U.S.: Accept Draft Resolution on Human Rights Council as It Is

Following on yesterday's joint NGO letter, Human Rights Watch writes to Secretary Rice to emphasize its conclusion that the draft resolution on the U.N. Human Rights Council represents the strongest outcome anyone could hope to wrest from the General Assembly. Opposing the resolution, or seeking to amend it at this juncture, would likely enable the spoiler states to weaken the text or delay its adoption indefinitely.

We have joined in a letter to you with nine other nongovernmental organizations to urge that the United States support the draft resolution for a new U.N. Human Rights Council proposed yesterday by the President of the General Assembly. We write further to emphasize our conclusion that the proposal in fact represents the strongest outcome anyone could hope to wrest from the General Assembly, and that opposing it, or seeking to amend it at this juncture, will likely enable the spoiler states to weaken the resolution with numerous amendments, or delay its adoption indefinitely. No resolution, and no new Council, would leave only the discredited existing Commission in place, and/or allow the human rights machinery of the U.N. to collapse entirely, a result that would reward only the worst abusers.

The proposed Council has many new elements that will be useful in our work for the promotion and protection of human rights, including:

  • Election of members by absolute majority in direct and individual voting, with candidates judged on their human rights record and commitments;
  • A provision to suspend members that commit gross and systematic violations;
  • Meetings three times a year for ten weeks, and additional sessions to be called by one-third of the Council membership; and
  • Periodic review of all U.N. member states.

We hope you will be able to grant the NGO request for a meeting, and we look forward to discussing how the new Council can be made to work effectively. We urge the United States to work with the new members elected to the Council to establish the best possible rules and procedures, and a robust universal review process culminating in appropriate conclusions and recommendations.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Roth
Executive Director

cc: Under Secretary Nicholas Burns
Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky

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