Replaced by stronger body, UN rights commission formally told to close shop

23 March 2006 –

In a formality following the decision to set up a stronger United Nations Human Rights Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has decided to abolish as of 16 June the much-criticized Commission on Human Rights which the new body replaces.

ECOSOC, which administers the Commission, adopted a resolution yesterday without a vote, requesting it to conclude its work at its sixty-second session, which should be short and procedural, and transmit its final report to the Council.

As a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, the new rights Council has a higher status and greater accountability and will meet year round as opposed to the six-week annual session of the Commission. Its members will be elected by a majority of all 191 UN Members.

The Council is one of a series of major UN reforms proposed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in March last year and approved by a World Summit at UN Headquarters in September.

In presenting his proposals a year ago, Mr. Annan had wanted election to the Council to be by a two-thirds majority, and failure to achieve this has been cited by the United States as one of the main elements in its opposition to the current framework of the new body.

But while conceding his inability to reach this goal, Mr. Annan has repeatedly stressed that the Council as proposed by General Assembly President Jan Eliasson after months-long consultations with Member States could be a basis for more effective human rights protection.

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