Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. HereÔŅĹs how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

The UNís new-look Human Rights Council - donít hold your breath

By Patrick Goodenough - posted Friday, 24 March 2006

As the dust clears after last week’s UN vote creating a Human Rights Council, attention will swing quickly to the likely make-up of the new body, whose predecessor was disgraced by the presence and disruptive antics of serial rights violators.

The US stood virtually alone against the resolution creating the new council, not because it wanted to retain the discredited commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) - it was, indeed, one of its severest critics - but because it said the replacement failed to fix the problems.

In the end, the US and just three allies, Israel and two small Pacific island nations, voted against the resolution and the council was duly born.


Critics of the Bush administration greeted the vote count as evidence of America’s deepening isolation, and on the ineffectiveness of the diplomacy practiced by John Bolton, US Ambassador to the UN.

Just wait, though, for May 9. That’s the day the General Assembly is due to elect the members of the new council to sit in Geneva.

There will be 47 of them, just six fewer than the number of seats in the UNCHR, whose ranks in recent years included such unsavoury regimes as Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Bolton had pressed for a much smaller body - around 20 initially, although he said earlier in the negotiations that the US was willing, as a compromise, to accept up to 30.

But, as was the case on so many other points, the US saw that proposal relegated to the garbage bin during the months of wheeling and dealing, co-ordinated by two UN “facilitators” under the oversight of General Assembly president Jan Eliasson.

So the UN’s 191 member states will vote for roughly one-quarter of their number to take seats on the council.


In order for an individual nation to get the nod, it will require the support of 96 of those 191 members. (Bolton wanted a two-thirds threshold, or 128 countries, but there again the US position was thrown out.)

And the resolution also says that if a council member fails to uphold high human rights standards, it can be suspended by a two-thirds majority vote, or 128 members. (Bolton wanted a one-third vote, or 64 members, but - well, you get the picture.)

Turning matters on their heads, the UN therefore made it easier for a rights violator to get onto the council, and harder for it to be kicked off.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

6 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Patrick Goodenough is a Pacific Rim-based correspondent for an American online news service,

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Patrick Goodenough

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 6 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy