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UN committee stymies resolution condemning Uzbekistan rights record

[JURIST] A draft UN General Assembly [official website] resolution condemning human rights violations in Uzbekistan [JURIST news archive] has been blocked [press release] in the General Assembly's Third Committee [official website] by a group of mainly developing nations that claim such resolutions are politically motivated. The resolution would have expressed "grave concern" at Uzbekistan's use of force to quell a May 2005 uprising in Andijan, at its closure of 200 non-governmental organizations [JURIST report], and at the detention of journalists and human rights activists within the country. The motion to take no action on the resolution, introduced by Uzbekistan itself, was approved in a 74-69 vote with 24 countries abstaining. In voting to block the resolution, representatives of both Uzbekistan and Cuba referred to an agreement of the Non-Aligned Movement of Heads of State and Government [BBC backgrounder] to prohibit "the exploitation of human rights for political purposes." China also supported the stalling of the measure, saying that the draft was confrontational and insisting that Uzbekistan had made recent progress on rights issues. US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton [official website], representatives from the EU and Amnesty International [advocacy website] all criticized the UN panel for missing an opportunity to push for improvements.

Last Thursday the same committee approved a draft resolution [text, PDF] directly calling for an end to politically motivated condemnations [JURIST report] of countries for human rights violations. The resolution, sponsored by Belarus and Uzbekistan and now headed for the General Assembly, says that human rights protection should be "guided by the principles of universality, non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity and should be not used for political purposes". Last month, the UN Human Rights Council [official website] closed its investigation [JURIST report] into the Andijan uprising, prompting criticism from human rights organizations. In May 2005, Uzbek government troops killed as many as 500 people who stormed a prison and released inmates [JURIST reports] in protest of trials of 23 businessmen who were charged with religious extremism. AP has more.

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