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U.S. isolated in opposition to proposed Human Rights Council

The US has become increasingly isolated in its opposition to the proposed U.N. Human Rights Council, ever since its closest allies in Europe and Japan began backing the new body.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 15:05 IST

The United States has become increasingly isolated in its opposition to the proposed U.N. Human Rights Council, ever since its closest allies in Europe and Japan have joined many other countries and human rights groups in backing the new body.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday that he was "chagrined about the U.S. position." He also expressed hope that the United States "will find some way of associating itself with the other member states."

World leaders at last September's U.N. summit decided to create a new Human Rights Council to replace the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission which has been criticized for allowing some of the worst rights-offending countries to use their membership to protect one another from condemnation.

In recent years, commission members have included Sudan, Libya, Zimbabwe and Cuba.

The leaders left the details of establishing the council to the General Assembly, and its president, Jan Eliasson, spent the last five months overseeing contentious negotiations before producing what he hoped would be a final compromise proposal last week.

While the draft didn't give any country everything it wanted, many said it would strengthen the U.N.'s human rights efforts and signed on, including Japan and the European Union on Wednesday night.

But the United States announced Monday that it would vote against the council unless the draft was renegotiated to correct what it views as serious deficiencies, especially the chance that countries abusing human rights could become members.

When U.S. Ambassador John Bolton was asked Thursday about the growing support for the council, he said "we understood what the lay of the land was when we made our decision that the current draft was unacceptable."

Meanwhile, Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said his country can accept the text but he said Britain believes that for the council to be effective, it will need U.S. support.

First Published: Mar 03, 2006 15:05 IST