Asian rights offenders fight for UN seats
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 21 May 2008, 14:50 GMT]
In what is viewed as the most significant contest, six Asian nations, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and East Timor, are vying for four seats in the UN Human Rights Council where the secret ballot to select the members is being held today. Only Japan and South Korea are designated as "free" by the NGO Freedom House, based on the past voting record and the history of adherence to human rights principles, so the outcome of the Asian race is the one with the most potential to change the council's overall composition, reports said.
Fifteen of the HRC's 47 seats will be decided by U.N. General Assembly secret ballot which is the third annual election for the Geneva-based council, which was established two years ago to replace the widely discredited U.N. Commission on Human Rights, according to CNS web report.
"A campaign by non-governmental organizations aimed at preventing Sri Lanka from being elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council has drawn some support, but the country's bid for a seat is just one of several concerns surrounding this week's election.
"Sri Lanka has drawn particular attention, with a coalition of international NGOs and three Nobel peace prize laureates among those highlighting abuses in the civil war-torn South Asian nation, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture. Sri Lanka's critics are urging U.N. members to withhold support," the report said.
In a recent letter to the participant Governments in the U.N. elections, an NGO consortium said: "To reject Sri Lanka's candidacy at this time would show that U.N. members are serious about the membership standards they established for the council, and bring new attention to the gross violations in Sri Lanka and hope and support to the victims of abuse."
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