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Human rights watchdogs criticize UN rights council

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] has neglected to censure countries committing gross violations of human rights, including Cuba, Saudi Arabia and China, according to a report [PDF text] released Monday by rights watchdog group UN Watch [advocacy website]. The report stated that:

Sadly, despite having some promise on paper, the new Council has not been an improvement over the much-derided Commission. In some ways, it has even been worse. Members are supposed to be elected based on their human rights records, yet the Council includes persistent violators, and after the upcoming elections is expected to include several more.
In a joint report released by UN Watch and Freedom House [advocacy website], the organizations outlined a review of candidates to serve on the council, and listed candidate nations Angola, Belarus, Egypt, and Qatar as "not qualified" to serve based on the inadequate human rights records of the countries.

Belarus was included on Freedom House's 2007 list of "The Worst of the Worst" [PDF text], a report detailing the human rights records of the most repressive societies. Last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] pressed member nations to work with the council, expressing hope that cooperation would help to end human rights abuses. The Human Rights Council was criticized for its limited successes in Israel and Sudan last year, when both countries refused to accept UNHRC investigative teams. In February, a UNHRC probe to the Darfur region was canceled [JURIST report] when Sudan refused to grant a visa to one of the members of the investigation team. In September 2006, the US expressed disappointment [JURIST report] with the work of the UNHRC for failing to adequately address violations in Darfur, North Korea, and China and has since refused for a second year [JURIST report] to run for election to the body, created last year to replace the largely-discredited UN Human Rights Commission. AP has more.

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