Sunday, July 29, 2007

Did you miss this last week? Worth repeating!!

Islamic states urge UN boss be quiet on rights body

By Reuters
Thursday July 26, 12:45 AM

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) - Islamic states said on Wednesday that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should avoid criticising the world body's Human Rights Council where they and their allies hold a majority.

They said there was an apparent "disconnect" between Ban and the 47-nation Council and also hinted they would like to see a more "predictable relationship" between the body and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, who has made clear she does not approve of all its actions.

The message, described by Western diplomats as clear if low-keyed, was delivered by Pakistan in a statement to an informal Council session on behalf of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

"It looks as though on rights at least they are trying to say they should set the line for the whole of the U.N.," said one European envoy, who declined to be identified.

On June 20 Ban voiced regret the Council -- created last year to replace the Human Rights Commission -- had picked on Israel and its role in the occupied Palestinian territories alone for continued special investigation.

A comment from the U.N. chief said he was disappointed at the Council's decision "to single out only one specific regional item given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world."

The written comment did not mention Israel or the Palestinian territories by name, but it was seen as aligning Ban -- a former South Korean foreign minister in the first year of his mandate -- with Western criticism of the Council.

It also followed a decision by the body -- which some Western countries and independent campaigning groups argue is even less effective in defending rights than the Commission -- to stop reporting on alleged abuses by Cuba and Belarus.

Cuba, also on the Council, generally lines up with the OIC and African members, together with Russia and China.

The OIC statement, delivered to an informal Council meeting by Pakistan's ambassador Masood Khan, said the Ban comment had "raised the question whether there is a disconnect between the Secretary-General and the Council."

It added: "We need to remove this anomaly through dialogue."

On Arbour, a former Canadian Supreme Court judge and U.N. war crimes prosecutor who has been critical of African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries over their rights records, the OIC said interaction between her and the Council was "excellent."

But it added: "However, we need to define institutional checks and balances to turn this cooperation into a predictable relationship."

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