UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth Statement On New Human Rights Council

March 15, 2006


Megan Rabbitt

WIRTH: “The international community took an important step forward today in the fight for global human rights by creating a new Human Rights Council”

Washington, DC – UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth issued the following statement after the United Nations General Assembly voted to adopt a new Human Rights Council:

“Today, the international community took an important step forward in the fight for global human rights. The new Human Rights Council represents a significant improvement over the old, discredited Human Rights Commission because it includes a number of new provisions and characteristics that will significantly strengthen the UN’s human rights machinery and prevent human rights violators from participating in the Council.

“The President of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson, has done a masterful job of diplomacy, as demonstrated by the broad support that exists among governments and non-governmental organizations. His proposal was made considerably stronger through pledges by a large number of countries. These recent pledges will help ensure that countries with dubious human rights records will not be elected to the new Council and that countries under Security Council sanctions are prevented from participating in the Council. The new commitments significantly enhance the proposal and set the stage for additional efforts to strengthen the new body as it is formed and made operational. Countries committed to human rights must know that leadership and diplomacy can continue to improve the Council as it gets up and running and into the future.

“While it is unfortunate that the United States found itself virtually alone in New York and was unable to join consensus, it is a positive sign that the United States did not make the mistake of abandoning the Council altogether. Secretary Rice and her team at the State Department are to be applauded for principled leadership in reaching this outcome. Building on these principles, the U.S. should participate actively in the next phase of the Council, exercising leadership and summoning enlightened diplomacy to advance the Council and the cause of human rights.

“The creation of this new Council – which was mandated by world leaders in last September’s summit at the UN – also fuels the momentum in the ongoing reform process at the UN. Over the next several months, Member States will take up the ground-breaking management reform agenda recently proposed by the Secretary-General. The U.S. must continue to engage constructively so that it realizes its stated goals of a stronger, more effective UN.”

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The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support United Nations’ causes. The UN Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the UN. Through its grant making and by building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the UN Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Elizabeth Alexander or
Amy DiElsi at 202-887-9040