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UN rights council chair urges periodic review of all UN members

[JURIST] UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website; JURIST news archive] chair Luis Alfonso de Alba urged the 47-member body Sunday to approve a series of reforms designed to mandate periodic review of all UN member states. De Alba called for the internal rules to be adopted by the conclusion of the 5th session of the Human Rights Council [materials] on Monday, saying that time for negotiations were over. UNHRC members have disagreed over giving the rights body authority to appoint independent investigators to focus on states with questionable human rights records. China is seeking to amend the existing procedure for initiating a special investigation from a simple majority vote in the UNHRC to a two-thirds majority, while the European Union wants to maintain the current voting scheme.

In early June, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet [official website] urged the UNHRC to ensure that special investigators remain independent [press release, in Spanish; JURIST report] and allow NGOs to participate in regular reviews of human rights in various countries. Many countries have sought to impose a "code of conduct" upon the investigators, and others have also sought to elect members of fact-finding missions rather than have members appointed by the council's president. Both proposals face criticisms from human rights groups who say that such measures will infringe upon the independence of the investigators. The UN Human Rights Council was established to replace the UN Human Rights Commission, which was often criticized for allowing the membership of states that have committed serious human rights violations. Reuters has more.

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