Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Iranian Nobel winner faults UN rights council
By FRANK JORDANS – 1 day ago
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N.'s top human rights body has performed poorly since it was created almost two years ago, Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi said Monday, but she urged leaders not to abandon it.
The Iranian lawyer said the U.N. Human Rights Council is vital because serves as a final resort for many victims of abuse.
The United States has been strongly critical of the council's record and announced last week it would only participate in the forum when absolutely necessary.
"Even though it has not performed well we should not be interpreting it the same way as the United States has done," Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on behalf of women and children in Iran, told journalists in Geneva.
Western countries and rights groups have repeatedly criticized the council's heavy focus on Israel at the same time as it treats autocratic governments and their allies who have a seat in the 47-nation body with a light touch.
"We should be coming up with solutions on how this trend can be reversed and the council can indeed become effective," Ebadi said, speaking through a translator.
"The U.N. is really the last hope of many people and many countries," she said. "If the United Nations is weakened we have taken away that hope from them, and that resort, a last resort."
The council was created two years ago to replace the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission as the global body's watchdog against governments that abuse their citizens.
But some critics feel it has failed to address the grave human rights violations in countries such as Zimbabwe and Iran, and has taken only ineffective action on Sudan.
The council has acted about 20 times over the past two years to condemn Israel for its actions in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.

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