The UN voted a few hours ago by 170 to 4 to set up a new Human Rights Council to replace the the Human Rights Commission, “which in recent years has included some of the world’s most abysmal rights violators.”
The new Human Rights Council was proposed to be break from the old Commission which is the words of Kofi Annan “casts a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole.”
Sadly this is in fact a cruel hoax where they have done little more than rename the old Council. Let’s look at what Kofi Annan originally proposed:
Member States should agree to replace the Commission on Human Rights with a smaller standing Human Rights Council.
It has shrunk by 10% only from 53 members to 47 members. This is ridiculously large and guarantees that it will continue to have as members some of the worst infringers of human rights. 25 should be the maximum if not even lower.
Its members would be elected directly by the General Assembly by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting.
This would have made it easier to keep the North Koreas of the world off the Council. But this was unacceptable to the member states who watered it down to merely a simple majority.
They have also kept geographical quotas. It has to consist of 13 Member States from Africa, 13 from Asia, 6 from Eastern Europe, 8 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 7 from Western Europe and Others.
Now it is almost undeniable that western european countries (which includes us) have the best human rights records in the world. Dozens of surveys show this. Yet they are restricted to 7/47 seats.
Then it gets even worse. They have term limits of two consecutive terms. This again greatly increases the probability that flagrant human rights abusers will be elected to the Council. For example after six years one will have had 26 African countries as members or becoming members and if someone can find 26 African countries with a great human rights record I’ll be impressed.
There are some minor bright spots such as every country will be subjected to a universal periodic review of their human rights.
But overall the UN has not only backed away from all the substantive parts of the reform proposal, but its compromise has quite possible made it even worse that the previous Human Rights Commission.
It will be very interesting to see which countries get elected. China has welcomed the creation of the Council so that gives us a fair idea!