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Human rights body provides fresh hope
Latest Updated by 2006-03-17 15:28:21
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The creation of a new Human Rights Council under the United Nations General Assembly heralds the beginning of an overhaul of the world body.

The UN is starting to respond to the tumultuous environment we are living in.

This is a realistic and necessary move.

The General Assembly voted on Wednesday on a resolution setting up the new council to replace the Geneva-based Human Rights Commission, which had always been subject to reproach for its declining credibility.

Finding fault with some countries for their violations of human rights, the commission shielded others from criticism. Its lack of credibility casts a shadow on the reputation of the UN as a whole.

The new council will have 47 members. The first elections are due on May 9, and its first session is planned on June 19, according to the resolution.

This is the first step in a process of changing the world organization.

The new council is expected to enjoy greater authority with a higher status as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, with an increased number of meetings throughout the year, equitable geographical representation and also voting rights associated with membership.

The membership will be fairer because the council members will be elected by the majority of the members of the General Assembly.

Also, the suspension of membership for those countries that commit gross and systematic violations of human rights will serve as a Damocles sword for better protection of human rights all over the world.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the establishment of the new council as a "historic development that will help improve the lives of millions of people worldwide."

The true test of the council's credibility will be the use that the member states make of it.

The resolution recognizes the "importance of ensuring universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues, and the elimination of double standards and politicization."

Still, it upholds the principles of co-operation and genuine dialogue on which the promotion and protection of human rights should be based.

Along with Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau, the United States voted against the resolution on the new council.

That the United States pledged to work co-operatively with other member states to make the council as strong and effective as it can be is positive note. Given the global influence the United States has, its role in protecting human rights will set an example for others.

Human rights issues have long been politicized by some countries in order to point the finger at others with different systems, cultures and religions.

It is essential that there should be a global approach to the issue of human rights and a serious commitment to defending them.

The new council is expected to be a place that combats prejudice and cultivates a culture of respect, dialogue and tolerance to deal with human rights issues.

It should be a place to promote and include human rights aspects in the dialogue among civilizations, respecting positive contributions of cultures as well as religious and cultural diversity.

It must be said again that no affront to other civilizations, cultures and religions is allowed, whatever the source or form.

Only when a culture of human rights that respects different traditions becomes an integral part of humanity's moral patrimony shall we be able to look to the future with serene confidence.

The resolution, however, is not a perfect one. It fails to give sufficient attention to detail to concerns developing countries have on human rights. Nor does it not annul the practice of the country motion, which was a source of political confrontation at the Human Rights Commissions.

However, we expect the new Human Rights Council to provide a platform for hope.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China Daily Website
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