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UN rights council burdened by accountability problems: report

[JURIST] Many UN member states are failing to hold other countries accountable for human rights violations [press release], according to a UN Watch [advocacy website] report [text, PDF] released Friday. The report, entitled "Mutual Praise Society," focused on meetings of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] and tracked reports made by various countries about the status of other UN members. Finding that the majority of countries failed to provide any form of accountability to other nations, the report stated:

The substantial data compiled in this study reveals, however, that the reviews conducted by the vast majority of countries participating in the UPR process are failing to achieve its stated purpose. More than 300 UPR interventions were analyzed and evaluated, as detailed in 12 country charts. Out of 55 countries examined—including all 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council—only 19 had average scores indicating that they contributed positively. Tragically, a majority of 32 out of 55 countries acted as a mutual praise society, misusing the process in order to legitimize human rights abusers, instead of holding them to account.
Canada was the only country to obtain the highest rating of "very constructive" for its commitment to challenging other nations and intervening when necessary to condemn human rights violations. Only eight other countries received positive rankings. Sixteen countries, including Zimbabawe, Sudan, and North Korea received the lowest, or "destructive," rating due to their praise and encouragement of countries who routinely are found to violate human rights.

UN Watch, a Geneva based non-governmental organization, has previously criticized the UNHRC. In 2007, the group released a report [text PDF; JURIST report] accusing the UNHRC of neglecting to censure countries that commit gross human rights violations. In December, UN Watch testified [JURIST report] at a meeting of the UNHRC concerning the UNHRC's condemnation of human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. UN Watch criticized the council for failing to reinstate an independent monitor and commence a fact-finding mission to investigate abuses.

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