Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Congressional Briefing on Proposed UN Changes

February 7, 2006 Remarks on Proposed UN Human Rights Council

Last week the Congressional Human Rights Council held a briefing on the revision of the UN. Over the years, the current Commission for Human Rights (CHR) has become a safe haven for many human rights violators. Other nations have joined the United States to demand repair of the UN.

William K. Davis, from the UN Information Center, gave a brief history of the Commission of Human Rights, started in 1946. The UN has agreed it is in need of repair, but it has made few changes, Davis said. The proposed new council will meet more often in Geneva, focusing on more states, and invite more participation of NGOs. Davis said there should be a responsibility of countries to not just protect themselves from outside aggressors, but to protect their citizens within. Other countries, he said, realize the nest the UN has ended up creating for human rights saboteurs.

The goal of the allies is “dramatic qualitative change, said Mark Lagon, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs. He said countries should express their endorsement plans, although that was not in the draft. He also said governments under sanctions should be disqualified. The UN needs something tangible and some governments are beyond repair. The UN should also condemn any government that has no effort to improve its stability, he said. Technical assistance should be given to governments that do want to improve. Other revision plans include hosting a smaller body of the CHR, which will be beneficial to repressed nations, and to speak out at hearings.

Amnesty International’s Asia and the Pacific Advocacy Director, T. Kumar, said the vibe of the UN today is that countries are not protecting humanity- they are protecting themselves. He followed up to say, “If we fail to build nations, massacres will occur.” The UN system needs to be improved structurally and pointing fingers will only slow down the improvement.

Iain Levine, Program Director of the Human Rights Commission, said there needs to be NGO access to the CHR. Like all the panelists, she said she favored the 2/3 voting requirements, adding the importance of focusing on opinions of councils and holding a strong mandate. She addressed a major problem facing the UN, the case of the silent majority. People who are not for this council are some of the most vocal countries. The African group opposed the 2/3 vote and favored keeping existing membership, which she said would continue to weaken the UN. Asia and Cuba are trying to weaken the council also, said Levine.

Jennifer L. Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House, explained the position of EcoSoft, an international software development company. According to Windsor, they choose which organization should participate in the commission but because repressive governments are working with EcoSoft, they have been pushing out Freedom House and other organizations wishing to aid with the UN’s revision. In conclusion Windsor said the 2 billion people that live under repressive regimes need to be heard.


Post a Comment

<< Home