U.N. Council must address rights violations in Mideast, Sudan
By Carolee Walker, Washington File Staff Writer
Washington - The U.N. Human Rights Council must address human rights violations among Palestinians and Israelis, as well as in Sudan's Darfur region, Burma and North Korea, U.S. Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor told the council June 26.
Calling on council members to be "intellectually honest," Tichenor said the council should give equal attention to "the indiscriminate terror attacks that murder innocent Israelis" as to violations of Palestinians' human rights.
Tichenor, the U.S. representative to the United Nations office in Geneva, also said that more involvement of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Gaza and the West Bank "could help make a real difference in many lives."
The goal in the Middle East is for Israel and the Palestinians to live side by side as two independent states in peace and security, Tichenor said. But "with a Hamas Palestinian government that continues to endorse the destruction of Israel ... this long sought after goal remains elusive," he said.
Tichenor also said the new council "must take action to streamline and depoliticize its agenda, to provide technical assistance and support to nations that need it, and to fund the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights."
The new council is holding its first session from June 19 to June 30 in Geneva. The United States did not seek membership on the Human Rights Council but is an observer of its deliberations. The United States has pledged to support the council politically, diplomatically and financially. (See related article.)
Government and government-supported militia in Sudan's Darfur region continue to commit serious human rights and humanitarian law abuses, Tichenor said, although the U.N.'s Commission on Human Rights resolution in 2005 calling for human rights monitors in Darfur offers "room for hope" in the region.
Tichenor said the council must act on abuses in Burma, a country with a "complete absence of basic human rights," as well as in North Korea.
North Korea, Tichenor said, "remains one of the world's worst human rights violators." The regime's violations, Tichenor said, "include torture, summary or arbitrary executions, widespread forced labor, an extensive inhumane prison camp system and infanticide and forced abortions in those prisons."
Patrick Smeller, the State Department's human rights officer to the U.S. mission in Geneva, called on the council to support the full implementation of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Statements by Tichenor and Smeller to Human Rights Council are available at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva Web site. More information about the U.N. Human Rights Council is available on the United Nations Web site.