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UN orders discredited rights commission shut down

Written by: Staff
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UNITED NATIONS, Mar 23 (Reuters) The United Nations has sealed the fate of its discredited Human Rights Commission, ordering it to be shut down in three months and replaced by a new UN Human Rights Council.

A resolution approved without a formal vote by the 54-nation UN Economic and Social Council yesterday abolished the Geneva-based rights commission as of June 16. The commission was first created in February 1946.

The replacement rights council was established by the 191-nation UN General Assembly just last week.

The vote to create it was 170-4 with three abstentions. The United States and close allies Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau voted ''no'' while Belarus, Iran and Venezuela abstained.

The 53-nation rights commission had come under fire from Western democracies, human rights groups and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan after a number of rights-abusing nations won seats and began working as a bloc to protect one another from criticism.

Membership on the commission was decided by the Economic and Social Council, and most candidates were put forward by regional groupings and ran without opposition.

President George W Bush's administration lobbied hard for strong barriers to membership by rights abusers on the new 47-nation council, but in the end decided those barriers were not tough enough.

Many developing nations were critical of the plan for a new rights council, saying Western powers merely wanted to target poor countries and would protect their friends.

Reuters DH VP0632

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