Annan calls on US to back HR council
* Admits the compromise draft not perfect
GENEVA: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Monday on the United States to give rapid backing to plans to set up a human rights council, while admitting the plan was not perfect.
The council is aimed at replacing the largely-discredited UN Human Rights Commission, tarnished by the presence on it of states with bad rights records.
The proposal was put to the UN general assembly last Thursday by its president, Jan Eliasson of Sweden. “I think this text given the circumstances is the best that we could get,” Annan told reporters in Geneva
“Obviously it does not contain everything that I asked for... Overall we do have a solid basis to move forward,” he said.
“We do not think (this text) attains the criteria laid down by (Annan),” US ambassador to the UN John Boulton said last week.
Asked about Washington’s coolness, Annan said: “I hope the Americans will join the vast majority of governments who seem ready to accept the chairman’s proposal... I really hope they will take a decision by the end of this week. “I appeal to the members states to understand that this is not a perfect world... We should not let the better be the enemy of the good.”
Eliasson presented the 191 member states with a draft proposal for a 47-state human rights council elected by secret ballot by an absolute majority. It would meet three times a year for a minimum of 10 weeks.
The new council would be based in Geneva and replace the UN commission on human rights, heavily criticized for taking years to pursue abuse cases and allowing nations with less-than-stellar human rights records to sit in judgment.
Under the draft proposal, membership criteria would tighten and the council could suspend members whose human rights record were deemed unacceptable.
The United States on Monday rejected a draft resolution for a new UN Human Rights Council and called for new negotiations despite fears from UN officials and others that more talks would sink the proposal. US Ambassador John Bolton said the current resolution has “manifold deficiencies” and needed more provisions to keep the worst human rights violators off the new body. agencies