UN watchdog …

… salutes Canada for human rights advocacy

By Steven Edwards, CanWest News Service, May 08, 2007.

UNITED NATIONS – A wide-ranging study of the United Nations Human Rights Council identifies Canada as the most active advocate for the world’s human rights victims. But it also warns Ottawa and other democracies could still do far more to challenge the council’s near-domination by human-rights-abuser states.

In a 44-page review of the council’s first year, the monitoring group UN Watch charges that political expediency has led to a situation where “too many democracies have thus far gone along with the spoilers.”

The Geneva-based watchdog adds that democracies should instead “unite and redouble their efforts” to turn the Council into a credible monitor of human rights.

The United States has refused to even stand for election to the council since the 192-member UN states voted in majority last year to create the body to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission, which had become a virtual mouthpiece for human rights abuser states.

Washington has said the new body is little better than its predecessor.

At a luncheon at the United Nations Monday, the New York-based democracy monitor Freedom House echoed UN Watch’s broad findings – including the praise for Canada – as the two groups also issued a joint assessment of the countries standing in May 17 elections to the Council’s second annual session, which starts later this year.

They warn the line-up is not encouraging.

Of 15 countries nominated by their regions to fill as many seats under the UN’s regional block system, the monitoring groups said four – Angola, Belarus, Egypt and Qatar – were “not qualified” because of their lack of respect for political rights and civil libertitextes. (full text).

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